RI Police Chiefs Association responds to my email regarding Bristol Chief RITBA language

Chief Sean Corrigan, RIPCA president, sent the following response to the same email list as my message of yesterday.

Mr. McDaid,

Members of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association Executive Board (except for Chief Lynch) received the email you sent to various elected officials. In your email, you question if Chief Lynch should be the “public face” of our organization. Chief Lynch has a record of public service that spans over three decades in various capacities, most recently as the Chief of the Bristol Police Department. During his lengthy tenure, he has earned the reputation of being an honest and passionate public servant. He has always comported himself with the utmost professionalism in the interest of public safety.

While you may not agree with his pursuit of installing license plate readers on the Mount Hope Bridge, you framed a comment Chief Lynch made during his testimony to be insulting and dismissive of the elected officials and residents of the Town of Portsmouth which is not the case. Chief Lynch is extremely respectful in his communications and his entire focus is to use technology to protect individuals who are suicidal and may use the bridge as a means to end their lives.

Open and honest dialogue is the key to our democracy and Chief Lynch has the right to offer his opinion like any other member of the public. It is unfortunate that you misinterpreted his passion for the topic. There were other people at the meeting that do not share your characterization of his testimony.

MyChief Lynch currently serves as the Vice President of our organization, and we look forward to him assuming the role of President in January. We have full confidence in his abilities to lead the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association which represents all police chiefs from across the state.

Chief Sean Corrigan/President of the RIPCA and Members of the RIPCA E-Board

My response, sent to the same list.

Chief Corrigan…
Thank you for your timely and thoughtful response.

I have a deep respect for the work that all police officers do; my bona fides may be confirmed with our Portsmouth police chief. I actively supported them in their campaign to build a new station, and I am a grateful graduate of their citizens police academy. The moment when the officer in my ride along instructed me in what do do with the radio in the event a traffic stop went bad is seared in my memory. I am not some anti-police radical. I am, however, a professional communication theorist and award-winning writer deeply sensitive to the power of language.

While I appreciate that there may be differences of interpretation regarding the Chief’s remarks, his decision to use the phrase “politics and personal candidacy” is unambiguous. While admitting in the previous sentence that he did not know why Portsmouth’s Town Council reversed its position, he went on to advance a speculative and unfounded assertion about “personal candidacy” about which he could not possibly have personal knowledge.

While the Chief absolutely has the right to offer his opinion, in “honest dialogue” we do not make up facts not in evidence to buttress an argument. I personally organized much of the opposition to Flock cameras in Portsmouth; there was no “personal candidacy” involved. This was the citizens of Portsmouth who, when given full information about the plan, petitioned their Council and effected a change in policy. I therefore strongly disagree with your characterization of my reaction as “misinterpretation.”

I thank you, and all the men and women of law enforcement in Rhode Island and across the country, for your service.

Best regards.