Cranston Mayor Allan Fung apologized to city residents Tuesday for a host of problems related to the Cranston Police Department.
While accepting responsibility for the findings, Fung said he "absolutely" will not resign and is leaning toward seeking re-election next year.
A report released Monday by State Police identified favoritism and intimidation within the Cranston PD, political interference by Fung and his staff, and inappropriate surveillance of an outside contractor, among other problems.
Even with the problems, Fung said Cranston residents should still place their trust in him, and he denied trying to put distance between himself and the issues while running an ultimately unsuccessful Republican campaign for governor last year.
Asked by reporters during a City Hall news conference, whether he faces a trust deficit, Fung said, "The voters are going to have to decide, at the appropriate time. But all I can tell you is, I’m proud of a lot of the accomplishments we’ve done for the entire city. I’m proud of the fact that I put in for the first time a police chief from outside the department."
Fung asked for the State Police review after the wards of two city councilors who opposed a police contract were pelted with parking tickets in late 2013. The Republican mayor says he’s leaning toward seeking re-election next year.
In offering a mixed response to the State Police report, Fung became the latest Ocean State politician to perform an act of contrition.
“I want to apologize, apologize to the residents of Cranston," he said. "I recognize I’m not perfect, but the measure of a man is not the mistake he’s made in the past, but how he’s grows from them and I’m growing, and I will continue to do so.”
The report says that former Cranston Police Chief Marco Palombo led a department plagued by intimidation, bullying, and bad morale. It finds evidence of inappropriate police surveillance and calls out Fung and his staff for political interference. Among other findings, the report says Fung sought to retain the same police captain who was found responsible for the 2013 parking ticket blitz.
On the whole, Fung calls the State Police report fair. But he says the Cranston Police Department is on the mend under new leadership,
For his part, former Police Chief Marco Palombo defends his record. In a statement from his lawyer, Palombo says he did what needed to be done even if his actions were unpopular.
Yet some Cranstonians are alarmed by the findings in the State Police report.
“Well, if it’s true, it’s not good," said Ralph Petronio, who runs the City Hall Barber Shop a block down Park Avenue from Fung’s office. He says his customers wonder about the mayor’s political future.
“That’s a question that’s most of the customers are saying -- should he stay or should he resign, if it is true? They’re just saying how a terrible a thing if it is – if it’s true, if everything on that report is true," Petronio said. "Which it probably is. The State Police usually don’t lie, they do a complete thorough situation. They interviewed over 50 people in that police department. I had to raise my eyes, too!”
The report is raising more than eyebrows on the Cranston City Council. They’ve called for Fung to answer questions about the findings in a meeting next week. Paul Archetto, one of two city councilors whose constituents were swamped with parking tickets, said the experience stressed him out
“When you have a police department acting in an unorthodox manner, you better be very careful as to your whereabouts and your access to your home and your car, because you never know what might be planted," he said.
Archetto said he feels better now that a former top-ranking State Police officer is running the Cranston Police Department. However, he faults Mayor Fung for trying to keep the problems under wraps during a period that coincided with Fung’s unsuccessful 2014 run for governor.