Letters to the Editor
Originally Published March 7, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate
As much as I respect our Arlington Police Department and as firmly as I believe in the effectiveness of Restorative Justice as an alternative means of dealing with individual offenses, the recent incident involving Lt. Pedrini has many of us questioning our confidence in both. This officer advocated violence in language so intemperate, that it constitutes a form of violence per se and potentially threatens the entire town. Police officers, who are armed and invested with the authority to enforce the law violently if need be, have the capacity to do great harm. Lt. Pedrini’s statements—whether meant literally or as satire (as he later claimed) —have led many of us to mistrust him and the department that may again dispatch him to situations where violence can erupt. If Pedrini meant what he wrote, how do we know he will be able to keep his emotions in check while on duty? And if he was “only kidding”—thus, lacked the good judgment to foresee that his words might be taken literally—how can we expect him to display the good judgment required, by definition, of a police officer?
As for the means chosen by the Town to deal with his intimidating behavior, I doubt that as currently designed it will change much. When so many of us feel victimized by Lt. Pedrini’s weaponized words, a process conducted by proxies behind closed doors, with no involvement of—or accounting to—the public (beyond an invitation to submit impact statements that may or may not be shared) is unlikely to restore our confidence in him. It is too much to ask that we simply take the word of the Town Manager and the HRC that he is a changed man. We need to hear from him directly and decide for ourselves whether his judgment and temperament can be trusted.
So let us interact with him directly—see his face and body language and hear his voice; speak our truths to him, listen to what he says and perhaps then let go of the fear his words have planted. If that does not happen and he returns to the force with anything but a permanent desk job, our faith in him—and by extension, in the APD—will most likely remain compromised.
Louise B. Popkin