Only four out of the original thirty-seven candidates for Somerville’s Chief of Police position remain. The Police Chief Search Committee narrowed the search down to Somerville Deputy Chief
Michael Cabral; Somerville Deputy Chief David Fallon; Manchester, NH Chief David Mara; and Hamden, CT Chief Thomas Wydra.
Candidate David Mara is the current Manchester, NH Police Chief and formerly administrative captain, prosecutor, patrol sergeant and officer with Manchester Police, and prosecuting attorney with the City of Manchester’s Office of the City Solicitor. Mara holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Michael Cabral, current Somerville police deputy chief of support and formerly acting chief, deputy chief of operations, captain, lieutenant, sergeant and officer with Somerville Police, was also an officer with Dennis Police. Cabral holds a master’s degree in criminal justice.
David Fallon, the current Somerville police deputy chief of operations, spent several years with the Somerville Police Department and served in the U.S. Air Force. Fallon is formerly a captain, lieutenant, sergeant and patrolman with Somerville Police, and security police with the U.S. Air Force. He also holds a master’s degree in criminal justice.
Thomas Wydra, the current Hamden, Connecticut chief of police, is formerly deputy chief of police, lieutenant, sergeant, state auto theft task force investigator, street crime unit investigator, and patrol officer with Hamden Police. Wydra also holds a bachelor’s degree in public safety administration.
During a public hearing last Wednesday, the finalists answered community questions at the Aldermanic Chamber at Somerville City Hall. Public inquiry probed candidates about their policies, hot topic issues, and their future plans for the Somerville Police Department.
First on the public’s agenda was, “How would each candidate deal with the recent spike in drug abuse and overdoses?” Wydra answered, “The Police Department needs to communicate with the public health system and school systems to identify abuse.”
Mara went on to explain why he would bring his practice of education, treatment, and enforcement from Manchester to Somerville, “The funding just isn’t there, the cost is too high to hold them in jail. So, you must attack the root of the problem. We have to get to kids early and drug abusers must be treated to save finances and lives.” Next, Fallon, a Somerville native, resolved, “In Somerville, this is a family problem. We need to look at the whole person and have prevention and talk about reduction. We loose someone; we loose a generation of potential. We need intervention programs to get them the help they need.” Finally, Cabral reflected, “Law enforcement needs to consider challenges as opportunities. The Police Department needs to be working with the community so they can meet the needs and challenges of the community. The increasing narcotic overdoses and suicides are happening close to all of us.”
Next, questions targeted how the candidates planned to interact with both Somerville’s youth and seniors. “Any encounter can be a positive one,” said Fallon in response to a follow up question on curbing the youth’s negative associations with the Police Department. All four candidates supported a Somerville Police Department working closely with the public school department and the Council on Aging. Wydra added, “our elderly population is the fastest growing population and we need to make sure the elderly live without fear of victimization.”
In closing, each candidate spoke of their attributes that separated them from the other finalists. Fallon contested that his military experience, Somerville upbringing, and his plan to use data laid across the Somerville population to analyze hot spots and patterns set him apart from the others. Mara said he experienced success as a Chief of Police for six years in Manchester, NH, “I’ve come across and had success with these issues. I’ve been able to bring people together and we had to start from scratch and work with the community.” Like Mara, Wydra shared the belief that prior work as a police chief in a city similar to Somerville gave him, “a unique set of skills for Somerville.” However, Cabral’s final statement noted, “We all have similar training and experience and there is one major difference for me: I’ve appeared over twenty years in the face of our cities’ challenges. I’ve had the opportunity to show leadership because I care about the people. They are not just numbers. I am determined to serve this city until my services are no longer desired.”
Despite diverse backgrounds in the criminal justice system, all candidates held the same contention about they key to a successful Police Department: communication. Communication between management and citizens will be essential for Somerville’s future PD.
Following Wednesday’s public hearing, The Police Chief Search Committee is set to submit a final assessment of each candidate to Mayor Curtatone. Curtatone scheduled individual meetings with each of the finalists in the two days following the hearing and will narrow down the candidates.
For more information on the Police Chief Selection Committee and process, please email ChiefSearch@somervillema.gov and for each candidates’ full resumes, visit http://www.somervillema.gov/news/4-police-chief-finalists-citywide-interview-june-25.