Update: Fung says he will address the report tomorrow:
The state police report released Monday on the Cranston police department portrays a law-enforcement force in disarray and infected with dysfunction and political favoritism, including serious failures by Mayor Alan Fung, the Republican candidate for governor in 2014, and members of his administration.
The former police chief, Col. Marco Palombo, is depicted as a bully who, one officer told state police, ran the department ``like the Mafia. You are either with them or you’re doomed.’’ It was a force riddled with a ``deplorable morale’’ problem where the chief spied on his own officers via private investigators.
And the probe has scorching criticism of Fung, who was running for governor at the time of the investigation. ``Mayor Fung failed to take the necessary and appropriate corrective actions, which empowered others to make unprofessional decisions. This greatly contributed to the problems in the department.’’
``The problems within the department extended beyond Cranston police headquarters,’’ states the report released this afternoon by state Police Col. Steven O’Donnell. ``Interviews with officers and city officials revealed inappropriate interference in the department’s operations by Mayor Fung and others in his administration.’’
The state police stated that ``the mayor did not act to address the growing problems in the department and complaints about Col. Marco Palombo’s actions. The mayor allowed these problems to fester.’’
Several people during the probe mentioned a ``close relationship’’ among Fung, Palombo and Capt. Steven Antonucci, ``whose dual roles as a member of the department’s leadership team and as president’’ of the union representing police ``presented a conflict of interest.’’
The state investigation found that under Palombo, as well as past police administrations, the Cranston department was ``sharply divided between an A team and a B team. Examples were found where officers who supported Col. Palombo were rewarded with favorable assignments. Those officers who questioned the leader of the department found it difficult to advance or do their jobs properly. Favoritism , bullying and intimidation were common terms officers used to describe the department’s culture.
``In at two instances Col. Palombo took the highly unusual step of hiring private investigators to conduct surveillance of his own department. In a separate incident involving a dispute with the firm hired by the city to manage the computer infrastructure of the department, Col. Palombo ordered his second-in-command, Maj. Robert Ryan, to dispatch a detective to follow an executive of the company and maintain surveillance outside his house. (The municipality the executive lived in was redacted). This was done without notifying the police department, which was an extraordinary action far outside the department’s jurisdiction. The detective assigned to that duty was instructed to disguise the assignment on his overtime request as another criminal within the city of Cranston.’’
In a particularly damning finding, the report states ``it is important to note that Mayor Fung knew of Col. Palombo’s inappropriate actions with this incident yet took no corrective or disciplinary action against Col. Palombo.’’
The probe found that, ``while every department has its share of internal disputes and disciplinary issues, several significant cases were identified within the Cranston police department, which are troubling and display the level of intimidation and political interference that existed.’’
The report found instances of Palombo hiring private investigators to spy on members of his own department.
The state police investigation did state that things got better after Fung tapped Michael Winquist, a former state police officer, to be chief. After Winquist took over, ```the intimidating subculture slowly diminished.’’
`After conducting the interviews, it became clear that the problems within the department were not due to the actions of the rank and file members. From January 2014 through November 2014, we observed daily the great police work and dedication performed by members of the department…it was clear that the department has numerous talented and hard working officers, but because of poor leadership and constant power struggles, the overall reputation of the department suffered.’’