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Response to Chapdelaine’s Community Letter

Letters to the Editor

Originally Published August 15, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate

I’m writing with concerns regarding Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine’s letter to the community. While I want to commend the town on their decision to continue to keep Lt. Pedrini on administrative assignment while working to determine next steps with an outside consultant and community stakeholders (including the organizers behind the petition), I think it is important to acknowledge that the letter falls short of addressing many of the pressing questions that have come to light with the release of hundreds of public town emails involving this case. Why hasn’t Pedrini been asked to step away from the Massachusetts Police Association per the recommendation of Chief Ryan? Why are we considering restorative justice successful when several town leaders and members of the circle sent emails of concern following the process? Why are we not concerned about the tremendous financial liability we face by keeping Pedrini on the force? Are there concerns that future arrests he makes might be challenged on bias and/or past cases might be brought into question? What are we doing to address the public safety concerns expressed by so many residents? The list goes on.

It has become clear that authority figures such as Pedrini have the power to influence/incite/empower extremists and white supremacists by using their words to promote violence against immigrants and other targeted groups. These actions pose a real and present danger to Arlington and surrounding communities’ public safety and security. We as a community want to do everything possible to protect our citizens from these hateful messages which are time and time again followed by inspired incidents of violence and tragedy. In order to best protect our town and surroundings, we must send a clear message that Pedrini’s calls for violence will not be tolerated in our community. This is why it is so very important to name Pedrini’s writings as racist. While the community letter acknowledged the writings as xenophobic, Chapdelaine stopped short of calling them racist. If we as a community cannot disavow Pedrini’s words as racist, we move from casual racism being tolerated to more dangerous levels of racism being tolerated. Naming Pedrini’s comments as “racist” may be uncomfortable, but it is absolutely necessary to build trust and healing for those marginalized groups in town that were most impacted by his words.

Lynette Martyn
Eustis Street

Faith in APD Compromised

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
Cliff Street