READING – Select Board member Andrew Friedmann Wednesday Feb. 12, issued an apology regarding his statement at the Select Board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 11.. Also The Reading Police Patrol Officers Union and the Reading Police Supervisors Union issued a joint statement to the Daily Times Chronicle Thursday Feb. 13.
Apology by Friedmann
February 12, 2020
A number of residents are upset, and rightly so, by my comment last night to the officers in attendance at the Select Board meeting. I deeply regret my statement and recognize it was wrong. It was one of those comments, made in the heat of the moment, that I wish I could take back. In addition to the members of the RPD, I also wish to apologize to the residents of Reading for my poor judgement. My comments do not reflect the Select Board member I have been or wish to be, and I will strive to be better. Thank you to everyone who has raised their concerns, anger, and disappointment. A vocal community is an engaged community, and I honestly appreciate the feedback. I support the recent comments of the Select Board chair, and hope that this incident does not damage the relationship between the Board and the RPD as we look to continue to support and serve our community. Earlier today, I reached to Deputy Police Chief Clark, apologized to him and have asked him to distribute my words to the rest of Readings police force.
During a recent meeting of the Reading Select Board, comments made by an elected official called into question the integrity of the Reading Police force. The Reading Police Supervisors Union and the Reading Police Patrol Officers Union would like to address the incident.
On February 11, 2020, members of the Reading Police Department attended a scheduled Reading Select Board meeting to hear information on an agenda item; “Police Chief Hiring Process Update.” The majority of these officers attended the meeting in civilian attire. During the meeting, members of the department, who are also town residents, respectfully addressed the Board with their concerns over further delays in appointing a chief and any negative impacts there could be on the department and community.
As the meeting progressed, a member of the Board chose to voice his concern about feeling “intimidated” by the presence of such a large number of police officers and the access they have to guns. While the officers would never invalidate the feelings that might prompt a comment such as this one, it came without any provocation. The officers in attendance displayed only respect for the Board, as they have a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings.
It is a great disappointment that the Board member’s statement has left us with the need to respond publicly. However, the comments that were directed at the women and men of the Reading Police Department by an elected official are shameful. To insult and fault us for carrying firearms in the performance of our dangerous line of work, is beyond hurtful and detrimental to the reputation of all the officers. We serve this community with pride and risk our lives for the safety of its citizens. Such a statement by an elected official undermines the communities trust in the Police, and trust is the very foundation on which a successful Police Department is built.
We are writing this statement to assure the community that they will continue to receive the same exemplary service from the Reading Police department that they are accustomed to. Many of the men and women of the RPD became police officers because of an overwhelming sense of community and caring for others. These values will never change, no matter what is said about them in any venue. We will not accept the divisive label of being “intimidating,” but instead we will continue our efforts to engage the public in a positive manner.