By Steven Rosenberg
Malden’s largest police union has issued a no confidence vote against Police Chief Ken Coye, complaining that he held up the promotion of a patrolman and also withheld sick time buy back bonuses.
Coye defended himself in an interview Tuesday.
“I’m getting some flack for something I couldn’t possibly do,” said Coye, a 33-year department veteran who has served as chief for the last six years.
On Monday night, the Malden Police Patrolman's Association voted 54-10 in favor of the no confidence action against the chief. Mike Polston, a Malden police officer and the association’s union president, charged that Coye held up the promotion of a fellow patrolman, Michael Cutillo, to sergeant during the winter.
“We believe it was an intentional disrespect,” said Polston.
But Coye, and Malden Mayor Richard Howard said Cutillo was not promoted over the winter because of mid-year local aid cuts by the state. During February, Howard said the city did not receive $1.5 million in state aid because of the cuts, and chose to not fill several police and fire vacancies, including the sergeant’s position that Cutillo would have filled. At the time, Cutillo had the highest score on the sergeant’s Civil Service examination.
Responding to the police union’s vote, Howard defended Coye and called him an excellent administrator. “I think he’s been very consistent,” said Howard.
Coye also denied hampering Cutillo’s advancement in the department, and said as chief, he did not have the authority to hire or promote officers. In Malden, that authority is held by Police Commissioner Anthony Spadafora.
Cutillo, who has been on the Malden force for 13 years, could not be reached for comment.
To complicate matters, said Howard, Cutilla did not take the civil service exam in the last year and is no longer first on the list for promotion. Still, Howard said he would recommend that Cutilla be promoted to sergeant and the city plans to push Cutilla’s case during a hearing at the Civil Service Commission in Boston during the summer.
Howard also denied the union’s charge that Coye held up payment of bonuses to officers who called in sick less than five days last year. “It’s got nothing to do with him [Coye]. That’s a financial issue for us. It’s a glitch, and it will be honored this week,” said Howard.
Christopher G. Fallon, a Malden state Representative who also serves as attorney for the police union, said the vote reflected an overall dissatisfaction with the way the department is run.
“I think the latest matter has just pushed people over the threshold,” said Fallon.
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