Police, Fire Honor Guards Skip Parade

by | May 29, 2018

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

While the 2018 East Greenwich Memorial Day Parade featured many regular participants, including the Kentish Guard, the Varnum Continentals and the EGHS Avenger Band, the EG police and fire honor guards did not march Monday.

Firefighter union president Bill Perry (Local 2238) said his union decided not to march in the parade but instead gathered with family members outside Station One to watch the parade.

EG firefighters watched the parade in front of Station One Monday with family members.

“We support the veterans, we support Memorial Day, we support the town and its citizens, but we just can’t support the Town Council and their continuous retaliation against the firefighters and, ultimately, can’t stand behind them,” Perry said Tuesday. 

Town Manager Gayle Corrigan has targeted firefighter overtime as a primary cause for town budget woes and fired popular former Fire Chief Russell McGillivray late last year. Recently, the Town Council hired as interim deputy chief former Fire Chief Peter Henrikson, who received a 35-1 vote of no confidence shortly before he retired in 2013. The town has also gone to court to find out whether or not they can move the firefighters into a 3-platoon, 56-hour work week without negotiating with the union and the Town Council voted to approve such a change earlier this month.

The police department has not been as scrutinized as the fire department, but Corrigan’s budget for fiscal year 2019 calls for a reduction in the number of detectives through attrition from four to two and for not filling the animal control officer position recently vacated.

“We left the decision up to individual members on whether they wanted to participate,” Chris Rafferty, police union (IBPO Local 472) vice president, said Tuesday. “The EGPD IBPO Local 472 supports every veteran, active military member and all first responders.”

But he added that the union is concerned about recent school budget cuts and reductions in the proposed police budget.

“Residents and taxpayers should be concerned they’re not getting what they have had and expected for years from the town,” Rafferty said.

Two members of the Town Council – President Sue Cienki and Councilman Mark Schwager – did march in the parade, as did six members of the School Committee – Chair Carolyn Mark, Vice Chair Mary Ellen Winters, and members Michael Fain, Yan Sun, Matt Plain and Lori McEwen. Police Chief Stephen Brown and Deputy Chief Stanley “Skip” Cirella marched, as did Interim Fire Chief Kevin Robinson.

Town Councilors Sean Todd, Andy Deutsch and Nino Granatiero missed the parade, as did School Committee member Jeff Dronzek. Town Manager Corrigan and fire Deputy Chief Henrikson also did not march in the parade.


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7 Comments

  1. Richard T Chadwell

    Not a very good way to show unity; this is not about town government, it’s all about show respect for our fallen heroes and the military. Shame on all of you who chose to sit it out; and now make excuses as to why. You should all be a shame of yourselves.

    Reply
  2. North

    It’s unfortunate that you think this way, when it is clearly stated that both groups are mindful of the veterans and active duty members in their community and elsewhere. Do you live in East Greenwich Mr Chadwell? Do you know the details of why this occurred?

    Reply
  3. Richard T Chadwell

    North I presently don’t live in East Greenwich. However, I once did and was very involved in my beloved community. I was Chairman of the Republican Town Committee, I served on the Town Council, ran the Tercentenary parade, and ran the Chamber of Commerce’s Parade. I also assisted Frank Rhodes in the running of the Memorial Day and Veterans Day Parades. Never can I remember the Fire Department and the Police Department absent from these parades. As I see it; if you have a problem with Town Government, you don’t take it out on the people that support you. I would venture to say that the Police and Fire Department for the most part have the support of the community. I still believe that all of those who chose to sit it out should be ashamed of their selves.

    Reply
  4. North

    Having been so involved with the Town’s government, you must know how vital fire and police are to the town. When the town government puts the public safety departments in a corner and prevents them from being able to serve the community they have grown to serve exceptionally well, then it does in fact become an issue with town government. It’s unfortunate, but that is the case in this town. I’m sure in your tenure with the town you never once attempted to steam roll the employees of the town. East Greenwich has grown quite a bit since then, and leaving them short handed is not an option. I believe the people of East Greenwich are on the same page as the ones that are sworn to protect them and teach their children. Oh, and by the way…no one every said they were completely absent. Police occupied the front and rear of the parade. The Fire Department occupied the ramp of the fire station on Main St. cheering on the people marching by.

    Reply
  5. Richard T Chadwell

    Let’s just say their absence from the parade was notice. My wife is the native; I just adopted East Greenwich and I am not happy what I see in the present town government.

    Reply
  6. North

    Agreed, Richard. The Town government should be working with their employees to help benefit the citizens.

    Reply
  7. Kathy ONeil

    I don’t care what is going on with the town and the fire and police. This was not the time or place to demonstrate dissatisfaction with your jobs. This holiday, as others are, is a day to honor all those who fought, sacrificed and died for you. In my opinion you were all wrong not to march in the parade. What are you teaching your children? If you are that unhappy with your jobs, find another one although I doubt you would be able to find one with such lucrative benefits.

    Reply

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