City Names New Police Chief; Pisani Agrees Force Is 'Poor'

Cambridge City Manager James L. Sullivan Friday named Capt. Francis A. Pisani the new city police chief. Pisani replaced James F. Reagan, who retired on December 31.

Pisani's appointment came after the release on December 27 of a report by the International Association of Police Chiefs (IPAC) that said the department was "poor" and which recommended sweeping organizational changes.

In his first action as chief yesterday, Pisani requested that the city's 250 police officers receive a copy of the report.

Agrees With Report

Pisani said yesterday that "from the viewpoint of organization and efficiency, I'd have to agree with the report and many, many of its recommendations."

"There's low morale in the department, there's no question about it," he continued. "It's not the pay scale--we're the highest paid cops in the state. But now I'm in the position of trying to get these guys going. I've got to boost these guys and get them motivated."

Pisani, who is 48 years old, was born in East Cambridge and grew up in a Jamaica Plain orphanage. He has been on the Cambridge city force 17 years and last year specialized in community relations.

Pisani said he heard strong criticisms last year from city residents who alleged incidences of police brutality. He said the death of Larry Largey two years ago and the partial blinding of Clarence Anderson last July caused most complaints.

"I will unquestionably discipline any officer who displays brutality," Pisani said. "If charges are made I will conduct a hearing. Any abuse of power must be severely dealt with."

The department also is being sued by black police officers who claim the city has discriminated against them by refusing to promote them. Pisani declined to comment on the charge because the matter now is under litigation in Federal Court.

A Cambridge police department study of crime in Cambridge from January to November last year shows violent crimes have increased about 26 per cent over 1973, and that crimes against property have increased about six per cent, Pisani said.

The greatest increase are in armed robbery (up 38 per cent), unarmed robbery (up 29 per cent) and assault (up 42 per cent), he said.

Crime is increasing most rapidly in West Cambridge, although Harvard Square continues to be a crime "generator," Pisani said.

"We're going to put more police on the streets," Pisani said. He said the department this year hired 37 cadets--a record high, although the total number of officers at 280 is still 40 shy of the number recommended by the IACP report, he added.

In appointing Pisani Friday, Sullivan said "it is extremely important that the Cambridge Police Department move forward to implement many of the recommendations of the IACP report."

City Councillors Barbara Ackermann and Saundra M. Graham also praised the report Sunday.

One officer on the force said yesterday that Pisani would be a good chief. "It's all a matter of communication with the rest of the department, to get everyone behind him," he said. "That was what was wrong before--a lack of communication."

A public hearing on the IACP report will be held tomorrow night at the City Council chambers