|Chief Daniel Charette|
Following a sometimes tense discussion the Southbridge Town Council voted 6 to 3 to adopt a motion requesting that the State Auditor conduct an audit of the Southbridge Police Department from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2012.
The motion had been presented by Councilor Laurent “Butch” McDonald and was signed onto by all eight other councilors.
During discussion, council chair Catherine Nikolla conceded that she had signed off on the request but that she regretted it almost as soon as she did.
Similar sentiments were expressed by vice chair Denise Clemence and councilor Pamela Regis.
Councilor Shawn Moriarty added an amendment, which the council adopted, calling for the hiring of a private firm to supplement the audit in any areas that the State Auditor’s office thought were outside their purview.
The motion was strongly supported by councilor Darlene Marcucci. It also garnered the support of councilor David Langevin who essentially argued that if there was nothing to hide it could only serve to reinforce confidence in the department while providing the council with useful information.
Strong opposition was mounted by Nikolla along with town manager Christopher Clark. Clark even raised the far-fetched specter of the State Auditor recommending the hiring of additional officers.
The most amazing spectacle, however, was provided by Chief of Police Daniel Charette. In what can only be characterized as a plaintive monologue, he begged the council to let him have time to smooth over any differences within the department that may have given rise to the request.
The vehemence of the opposition to the proposal from Charette, Clark, Clemence and Nikolla seemed to only strengthen the resolution of McDonald, Vandal, Moriarty, Peloquin, Langevin and Marcucci in voting to approve the request. Councilor Regis joined with Clemence and Nikolla in voting against the motion.
It will be interesting to see if any further efforts are made to block the audit and what results emerge if and when it is carried out.