One of Mayor Steve Noble’s first acts as the city’s chief executive was to undo his predecessor Shayne Gallo’s final personnel decisions — an 11th-hour blitz of promotions in the police department against the wishes of a majority of the police commission.
On Saturday, Jan. 2, his second day in office, Noble convened the four-member commission for a special session. The commission then voted to rescind four promotions made by Gallo at a November meeting.
According to Noble and Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti, the promotions — two to lieutenant and two to sergeant — were made back in November at a regular meeting of the commission. The appointments were made after the eligible officers were called before the commission for interviews. At that point, Tinti and Noble said, the commissioners voted to hold off on appointing anyone until January when Noble would become mayor and, per the city charter, president of the police commission.
“The mayor felt the appointments had to be made that day, the board felt differently,” said Tinti, who was at the meeting. “The mayor went ahead and did it anyway.”
Noble said he convened the commission for the vote to rescind the promotions at the request of the commissioners, who, he said, felt that Gallo’s action had violated established protocol. The city charter gives the commission “authority to set departmental practices in recruiting, hiring, promoting and disciplining.” It does not explicitly state that they have a yes or no vote on promotions. But Tinti said that for as long as he has been in the department, promotions have always gone up for a vote by the police commissioners. Noble said he had reviewed minutes of the meeting and it appeared that Gallo had claimed that he had sole authority over promotions — contrary to past practice.
“The mayor said that he was the appointing authority, but my understanding is that the commission itself holds that authority,” said Noble. “The commissioners felt and continue to feel that [Gallo’s] was not the procedure to be used.”
Noble said he was waiting for a written opinion from legal advisors on the commission’s role before moving ahead with any promotions. Tinti, meanwhile, said that he wanted time to review the department’s staffing needs before making any decisions.