Letters from Town Leadership
Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and Acting Police Chief Julie Flaherty report to the community that the Town of Arlington and the Arlington Police Department (APD) are pursuing a restorative justice process with a member of the police department who has been on administrative leave since October after inflammatory columns were published in a police advocacy organization’s newsletter.
The columns written by Lt. Richard Pedrini in the Massachusetts Police Association magazine The Sentinel were offensive to many and advocated violence against offenders. His writings also directly undermined the progressive programs championed by the Arlington Police Department and the Town of Arlington. It was determined in a Communities for Restorative Justice viability meeting that Lt. Pedrini expressed enough remorse for harm caused to the Arlington community to make him an appropriate candidate for the restorative justice process. Chapdelaine and Flaherty also saw it both fitting and proper that restorative justice be used to address this situation.
Earlier this month, Lt. Pedrini sat with community leaders in Arlington for a restorative circle, overseen by Communities for Restorative Justice Inc.
Restorative justice is an approach to justice in which the response to an offense is to organize a facilitated dialogue or meeting between the parties involved, including those harmed, and the offender and sometimes with representatives of a wider community present as well.
“When we reviewed all options available to us to resolve this matter, we felt there was no more effective or more fitting solution than the restorative justice process. Not only does this process reflect the values of the Arlington community by allowing for community input and reconciliation, but it provides the greatest opportunity for a lasting and valuable outcome – healing,” Chapdelaine said. “As always, when faced with a difficult situation, we turn to our trusted partners in the community for guidance. Restorative Justice is a tried and true method – championed by Arlington since its inception – to offer healing to the community when there is a breach.”
During the circle, Pedrini, Chapdelaine, and Flaherty reached a restorative agreement, which includes a second restorative circle with community stakeholders, and subsequent engagement with staff at the APD to describe the harm that Pedrini caused along with lessons gleaned from this process. There will also be disciplinary measures that acknowledge the seriousness of his actions.
Representatives from various community groups, including the Arlington Human Rights Commission, will be asked to participate in this second restorative circle and contribute to this important dialogue. The Town is also soliciting the submission of community statements describing the harm that was caused by Pedrini’s writings so that they can be shared with him as part of the restorative circle process. Community statements can be submitted using a Google form available here: bitly.com/PedriniRJCircle. Statements will be collected, organized, and shared in the second restorative circle by representatives of the Arlington Human Rights Commission. The deadline for submitting a statement is Wednesday, March 6th.
The second restorative circle will be scheduled in March. The ultimate goal of this effort is to restore the harm caused by Lt. Pedrini, chart a path for his return to work that provides him an opportunity to learn and grow from the incident and allows the Town to begin to rebuild the trust that was lost as a result of the incident.
“It is our sincere hope that this deeply distressing situation will serve as a teachable moment for all public servants,” Flaherty said. “The partnerships forged here in Arlington are on full display, proving again that a police department’s potential for success is only as great as its connection to the community and the trust placed in it by its citizens.”
Arlington is a founding member of Communities for Restorative Justice, a non-profit collaboration of communities and police departments that offers restorative justice to those affected by crime. The organization’s “circle” process recognizes that an offense or crime is a violation of people and relationships, not always simply a violation of rules or laws.
Lt. Pedrini has been employed by the Arlington Police Department since 1996.