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As part of its $247 million budget for fiscal 1991, a divided City Council Monday night approved a major restructuring of the police department's leadership by appropriating funds for the new position of police commissioner.
Next fall, City Manager Robert W. Healy will appoint a commissioner based on a nationwide search of law enforcement officials. The commissioner will be responsible for coordinating police work with community groups and other law enforcement agencies, but will not replace the chief.
Council members backing the position--all members of the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA)--said the appointment of a new top administrator from outside Cambridge will help the city's police force develop new ways of fighting crime.
At Monday's meeting, the five CCA council members said they needed to create the new position because the department's current promotion system does not guarantee selection of the best possible chief.
Under state and city law, only police captains who score highly on the Massachusetts civil service exam are eligible to become chief. As a result, only three officers are currently eligible to succeed Chief Anthony G. Paolillo, who will retire later this year.
"That kind of restriction does not assure that we will get the best possible leadership," said Councillor Francis H. Duehay '55. "And that should be the single criterion."
"The question we must ask ourselves is 'what is the better manner of assuming for the people of this city that we have the best possible leadership for that department?'" said Duehay.
But several other councillors said that creating the new position could undermine the authority of the chief, creatingfriction in the department. They suggested thecity hire more police officers instead, or abolishthe post of chief altogether.
"I think this is an extraordinary waste of thetaxpayers' money," said Councillor William H.Walsh. "We need foot patrolmen. We don't needanother administrator sitting in an office."
The new commissioner will receive a salary of$64,000 per year, but councillors said the cost ofthe position would probably exceed $100,000 aftersupport staff was hired.
Walsh also criticized the decision because hesaid it amounted to a vote of no-confidence inCambridge's police. "The thing we're saying isthat there is not one qualified policeman inCambridge to succeed Chief Paolillo," he said.
In other business, the council took action on ameasure that would allow Cambridge to strengthenits rent control regulations. The measure wassubmitted to the state legislature for approvallast January, and was recently returned in anamended from to the council.
Vice Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 proposed minoralterations to the amended version in order toclarify certain exemptions from rent control, butseveral councillors objected to the last-minutechanges. The changes prevailed by a vote of 5 to4, however, and the measure will be considered inits entirely next week
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