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Malden police chief retiring next month

Posted by Travis Andersen  November 19, 2009 12:00 PM

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Malden chief Kenneth Coye

Citing concerns about his pension, Malden Police Chief Kenneth Coye says he plans to retire at the end of December after seven years at the helm of a department whose officers issued a no confidence vote in his leadership in June.

"If Mayor [Richard] Howard wants me to stay during [the] transition, I certainly would do that," Coye said in an e-mail.

Howard did not return a call on Wednesday.

"I will look back at these seven years as the most rewarding in my 33 years of service," Coye, 59, said in an e-mail, adding that looming pension cuts played a role in his decision to step down.

"As you are aware, there is momentum to cut pensions," he said. "For the last six months, the senior officers in every [police department] in the area [have] become focused on this. In one [department] the top three people left for fear of these cuts. I would prefer to be proactive and go on my own schedule."

Coye added he wants to protect his family.

"Obviously, I need to think about protecting my wife in terms of the pension," he said.

Kevin Morrison, director of the city's Retirement Board, said police officers and firefighters with at least 32 years of service and at least 55 years of age receive 80 percent of their salary in annual pension benefits.

Coye was paid $119,758.47 last year, according to city records, meaning he'd be eligible for a yearly pension of about $95,800.

"He has to establish with me a retirement date," Morrison said. "That hasn't been done."

Officers voted no confidence by a 54-10 margin after Coye - a 33-year-veteran of the force - was blamed for blocking the promotion of two officers to the rank of sergeant last winter.

Coye denied the allegations, noting that Howard instructed him to hold off on promotions due to budget constraints. The matter is pending before the state Civil Service Commission.

Coye also presided over a department rocked by a spate of high profile shootings this summer, including an incident in August in which three officers fatally shot a 20-year-old man who tried to ram into them in a stolen vehicle. Following an investigation, the Middlesex District Attorney's office recently announced the shooting was justified.

Despite the rough times, Coye said he's enjoyed his tenure as chief. He lauded the department's modernization efforts, and its close-knit working environment.

"We have built a contemporary [department] with strong values," he said "I grew up here and live here. Having said that, it's wonderful when [you] can help and work with folks that you went to school with."

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