Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick said yesterday that he would not run attack ads against Republican opponent Kerry Healey, but he sharply criticized the budget cuts and decreased community policing that have occurred while she has been lieutenant governor.
During a press conference in front of the Allston-Brighton police station yesterday, Patrick said Healey is following the ``Republican playbook" by using attack ads to deflect attention from her four-year tenure.
``I'm not going to crawl around in the same gutter," Patrick said. Asked by a reporter if that meant he would not air negative television advertisements, he said yes.
A Healey advertisement focuses on Patrick's defense work in the mid-1980's on behalf of Carl Ray Songer, convicted of killing a Florida state trooper. ``While lawyers have a right to defend admitted cop killers, do we really want one as governor?" the ad asks.
Yesterday, she continued to raise questions about Patrick's advocacy on behalf of convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer. Patrick wrote two letters to the Parole Board on behalf of LaGuer, and he has acknowledged he apparently contributed to pay for a DNA test, but he does not remember writing a check for the test. The DNA linked LaGuer to the rape.
``It's deeply troubling that he won't answer some fundamental questions, still, about his involvement in this case," Healey said yesterday, at a press event where she was flanked by Lawrence police Chief John J. Romero and other area police officers. ``Why doesn't he know whether or not he actually donated $5,000 in order to help that man's cause? I'm surprised that he says that he is proud of this record and those priorities, because they are the wrong priorities."
Patrick staged his own event yesterday with a number of suburban mayors. They praised his plan to add 1,000 police officers across the state. The mayors -- from Salem, Cambridge, Medford, Somerville, Taunton, Newton, and Melrose -- said state budget cuts have raised local taxes and forced cuts in police staffing .
Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for the governor, disputed the numbers and cited data reported by the Department of Civil Service and the Municipal Police Training Council.
``Since January 2003, which was the beginning of the Romney-Healey administration, there were statewide 148 police layoffs, and of that number, 126 were rehired," Fehrnstrom said. ``What we also know is that since the start of the Romney-Healey administration in January of '03, the total number of new police officers put on the street is 2,122."
Mayor Robert J. Dolan of Melrose said that under Healey's leadership, his city has lost $3.2 million in local aid, roughly the same amount as the budgets for the police and fire departments. Simultaneously, he said, he has seen an increase in OxyContin and heroin use, as well as death among younger people.
``The city of Melrose, on any given night, could have three fire stations open or one," Dolan said.
Mayor Kimberly Driscoll, who is serving her first term in Salem, said her city has lost 18 police officers, roughly 20 percent of her force, due to budget cuts. There are no officers trained in domestic violence cases.
``We can do this job in running from crime to crime, but the real job is in prevention," Driscoll said.
Patrick expects his public safety initiative, which would be included in a local aid package, to cost about $80 million a year, with 1,000 police officers added each year. Patrick also called for better prison detoxification programs and programs that supervise the release of inmates, so that they do not return to illegal behavior.