Independent panel reports results

WESTFIELD – An independent review panel charged by the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission to re-interview candidates for promotion to the rank of police captain has completed its task and reported to the Westfield Police Commission at a meeting Tuesday evening.
In August, 2011, the Civil Service Commission vacated the appointment of Westfield Police Capt. Hipolito Nunez after an appeal by Lt. Lawrence P. Valliere, who was bypassed in 2010 for a recently created captaincy in the department.
The Civil Service Commission ruled that “The police Commission was not reasonably justified in bypassing the Appellant (Valliere) based on Nunez’s seniority, education or his bilingual skills” as those elements were not cited as pre-established criteria for promotion.
In addition, the commission found that “by establishing prior experience as an administrative lieutenant as a criterion for selection” the police commission “established an insurmountable obstacle for the other two candidates and effectively excluded them from consideration.”
To remedy the Police Commission’s errors, the Civil Service commission ruled Nunez’s promotion to be temporary and ordered a new review process for the position, mandating that “the Police Commission shall use the services of an independent, outside consultant” to interview the eligible candidates in order to “provide all candidates with a fair opportunity for consideration.”
A panel led by retired Longmeadow Police Chief Richard Marchese and comprised of retired police chiefs from outside the immediate area was chosen, with minimal input only from Police Commission Chairman Karl Hupfer and City Solicitor Susan Phillips.
All three eligible officers, which included Lt. D. Paul Kousch, were offered the opportunity to re-interview for the Captain’s position, but Kousch declined.
Marchese reported to the police commission that the remaining candidates, Nunez and Valliere, were interviewed in the conference room at Barnes Airport under stringently controlled conditions, which Marchesse spelled out for the commissioners Tuesday evening.
Marchese delivered the summary of the of the interview results to the commissioners, Police Chief John Camerota and the two candidates.
Phillips pointed out that there are no other copies of the panel’s report.
The commissioners voted to stage a special meeting of the commission on Jan. 30 to re-consider the candidates and to appoint a permanent police captain at that time.

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