Police Chief Paul Tucker’s recent allegation that Capt. Brian Gilligan appeared to have worked details while on duty has brought a spotlight to bear on the department’s policy on working private details and raised questions as to whether it reflects those of nearby communities.
A check with police departments in Beverly, Peabody and Danvers shows that policies in all the communities are similar, with one major exception — Salem’s use of the seniority system.
In Salem, details are assigned on the basis of seniority, or how long a given officer has been with the department. When a company contacts the department for a detail, the assigning officer checks the list of officers and offers it to the next most senior in line.
“You might have a patrolman of 30 years who is ahead of a captain with five years,” said Tucker. “If a senior guy has already worked, the junior guy gets a crack at it.”
The assigning officer starts at the top of the list again each Monday, meaning the officers with the most seniority begin the week at an advantage. That’s different from the way that Beverly, Peabody and Danvers assign details.
In Danvers, officers put their names in for the days they want to work, and whoever has worked the fewest amount of detail hours so far that year has first dibs, said Sgt. Olivia Silva. Seniority isn’t taken into consideration at all.
Peabody works the same way, said Capt. Dennis Bonaiuto.
In Beverly, the department maintains a combined details-and-overtime list, and whoever has worked the least on that list gets first preference for details, said Lt. William Terry.
“Whoever’s worked the least amount ... they get offered the job,” Terry said.
Tucker said Salem’s policy of assigning details based on seniority has been in place at least since he began working there 30 years ago, and was instituted at the request of the police unions. He also said he didn’t think the difference in assigning systems between Salem and other departments is especially significant, because though the Salem list starts with senior people, it then moves down to the more junior, with each getting a single assignment before the list moves on.