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Manager's full statement on racism, petition

This is the full text of the statement about issues involving Lt. Rick Pedrini that the Town Manager read to the Select Board on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019:

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine gesturing.

Thank you, Madame Chair. I appreciate that you’ve allowed me an opportunity to speak in regard to this matter tonight. I’d like to start by thanking all of the residents that have attended the last few Board meetings to express their concern regarding this issue.

Their presence and their words have allowed all of us to learn and more deeply understand the contours of this issue. Through the words of those who have spoken before the Board, and through the many meetings that I have had with residents in regard to this matter over the past 6 months, I have felt the pain that many are feeling and have deepened my understanding of the importance of constantly working to build and maintain trust between Town government and the community.

I also want to note the respect and appreciation that I have for the women and men of the Arlington Police Department. They work hard to serve this community and I’ll be the first one to acknowledge that they have difficult jobs. Though this issue has highlighted areas that we need to focus on and implement improvements, I do not feel that a blanket indictment of the APD is appropriate and it is certainly not what I am intending to do.

Also, before directly addressing the petition and my responses to it, I want to make something clear that I should have made clear in my letter to the community. Lt. Pedrini’s writings were racist and need to be called out as such. Let me be clear – I am not saying that Rick Pedrini is a racist, but I do believe that his words were. Though I have in the past and continue now to condemn his writings, I don’t call them racist tonight simply to condemn them. Rather, I make that statement to call them what they are, so that we can address the issue that is before us. The more I read and learn about issues of race in this country, the more I understand that it is a challenge that we all face. Bias, either implicit or explicit, is present in all of us, and it is only through an acknowledgement of its presence that we can begin to address and find ways to move past it as individuals, organizations and as a society.

I am hopeful, that working together as a community, we can begin to address these issues and improve the overall equity and inclusion of Arlington as both a local government and a community.

In order to start this work, I’d like to directly respond to the petition and also offer an additional step that we are committed to taking in response to this issue.


  • Develop and announce a plan for repairing community trust by November 1, 2019. – Using the report compiled by the Consensus Building Institute as a guide, we plan to hold a series of community meetings in order to develop and continue the restorative process for Lt. Pedrini with the community and targeted groups. I have spoken with one facilitator and would like to speak to a few more before formally announcing the format of these meetings. Currently, I would like to have the first of this series of meetings scheduled to be held before the end of November. Additionally, in line with CBI’s recommendation to develop additional structures, policies, and actions for the Town to ensure that Arlington and its employees live up to the values and aspirations of Arlington residents, we are planning to update the Town’s Employee Handbook so that it includes a “Code of Conduct.”
  • Restrict Lt. Pedrini to desk duty while this plan is developed. – Chief Flaherty holds the right of assignment for police personnel, but we have both agreed that due to the sensitivity of this matter, that we will confer before any changes to Lt. Pedrini’s assignment are made. Correspondingly, we are both in agreement that Lt. Pedrini will remain in his current administrative assignment until further notice. If at some future point we decide to change his assignment, we commit to doing so transparently.
  • Work with an impartial, racially diverse, third-party organization to conduct a review of the APD and assess the presence of bias within the department. – We are committed to doing this and Chief Flaherty has two proposals from two different firms that we are now assessing. We hope to have a firm selected and a contract awarded within the next two weeks.
  • Based on the assessment findings and third-party recommendations, develop a plan for ongoing cultural competency and anti-racism training within APD. – We are absolutely committed to doing this as it is both appropriate and also a continuation of trainings that former Chief Ryan and now Acting Chief Flaherty have conducted for the Department.
  • Develop a plan for the establishment of a racially and class diverse Civilian Review Board. –It is my opinion that it is generally not the Town Manager who tells a community how to govern itself from a structural point of view.  That said I, would be happy to facilitate a process of considering such a proposal if brought forth by the community.

National League of Cities

Finally, though it does not directly relate to any of the requests of the petition, I am working to bring the National League of Cities, Race, Equity and Leadership Division to Arlington. This engagement would include assessment, training and capacity building and would focus on work with department heads, supervisory staff and elected officials. NLC created the Race, Equity, And Leadership (REAL) program to strengthen local government leaders’ knowledge and capacity to eliminate racial disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities.

In closing, I am fully aware that just making this statement tonight does not fully satisfy people’s concerns. Moreover, I understand that there are many different opinions, including sometimes conflicting opinions about what should be done to address people’s concerns. That notwithstanding, I fully understand that we need to act upon the response that I have offered tonight and that we need to do so in an expeditious yet thoughtful manner. I am committed to doing so. As more details about our plan are developed, I will share them with the community. I look forward to working with the Board and the community to, not to no longer talk about this issue, but to look back and see the improvements we’ve made.

This news announcement, which include opinion, was published Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019.

Writer decries heinous acts on both sides


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