Marco Palombo Jr., Cranston’s police chief who was placed on paid administrative in January as state police began a broad review of the city’s department and an investigation into alleged retaliatory ticketing, has retired.
Palombo was reinstated Monday afternoon “for the sole purpose of [my] receiving correspondence announcing his intention to retire ... effective today,” said Mayor Allan Fung in a statement. “It was the right thing to do, and I have accepted Colonel Palombo’s retirement letter.”
Fung in his statement said it is “time for new leadership in the Cranston Police Department,” and indicated he “will begin immediately to search for a new chief.”
State Police Capt. Kevin Barry will remain in command of the Cranston department until a successor is selected. The ticketing investigation and overall review of the department both remain ongoing, the mayor said.
Fung in his statement additionally said he is “extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the Cranston Police Department, which has resulted in numerous achievements, most notably the Department’s national accreditation in 2012.”
“Upholding this tradition, our next Colonel must earn the respect of, and unify all the men and women who serve our Department and our City so well,” the mayor added.
Palombo – whose retirement was effective Monday – in his own statement said he has “accomplished the professional goals I set for myself and the department when I was appointed” as chief.
“I have for some time been considering new opportunities. I believe now is the time for me to take on new challenges. I will continue my work helping to coordinate cold case investigations of homicide victims by working with the Institute for Study & Practice of Nonviolence, and I intend to be actively involved in the teaching and training of the police science,” Palombo’s statement reads. “I am also considering corporate opportunities consistent with my areas of expertise, my recent graduation from the FBI National Academy at Quantico and my leadership performance studies at Harvard University.”
Palombo cited numerous accomplishments over his nearly 30-year career and tenure as chief, and lauded the “dedicated work of the men and women of the Cranston Police Department.”
“I have had the great honor to serve with these courageous and compassionate professionals for nearly three decades and that distinction is a reward unto itself,” his statement reads. “I am confident that they will continue to reach new and ever improving heights in policing our wonderful City. I wish to thank Mayor Fung for his commitment to public safety and for allowing me the opportunity to lead such a special group of people in protecting the City I love.”
Palombo, a Cranston native, took the department’s reins in 2009 when Fung nominated him to replace former chief Stephen McGrath, who stepped down following a “no confidence” vote on the part of the union.
The chief’s departure comes as uncertainty continues to surround the Cranston department.
In December, City Council members Steven Stycos and Paul Archetto made public allegations that their wards had been targeted with mass ticketing following a November vote of the Finance Committee against a new police contract.
Fung had announced the hiring of a New Jersey-based investigator to review the Cranston department’s internal probe of the allegations, but on Jan. 9, as the council was preparing for a special meeting during which a resolution calling for state police involvement in the ticketing probe was to be brought forward, Fung at a late afternoon press conference announced he had asked state police to investigate the matter.
Then, during a press conference the next day, Fung – standing alongside State Police Col. Stephen O’Donnell – announced that Palombo had been relieved of his duties and placed on paid leave.
The mayor at that time requested that state police provide temporary leadership for the department, investigate the alleged ticketing and conduct a broader review of the department’s operations and personnel issues.
Later in January, Cranston Police Capt. Stephen Antonucci, president of International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 301, disclosed publicly through the union’s attorney that he had ordered the mass ticketing. He asserted it was not undertaken in retaliation for the finance committee vote but was part of a broader overnight parking ban enforcement effort, and said the timing was coincidental.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU) subsequently submitted a public records request it said would help evaluate Antonucci’s explanation.