JOHNSTON, RI — The Police Department is investigating the union president on multiple charges, including “dissemination of information,” after he spoke with The Providence Journal about a lawsuit that Adam Catamero, a former officer and union member, filed against the town.
Detective James Brady, a Johnston police officer for 18 years, spoke with The Journal on Sept. 15 on behalf of Adam Catamero, a former Johnston officer who is suing the town for wrongful termination.
Days later, Brady said he was called into Chief Richard Tamburini’s office and notified that he was the subject of an internal investigation for speaking to the media.
Tamburini launched the internal affairs investigation because Brady violated three department policies regarding “conduct unbecoming of an officer,” “dissemination of information,” and “public information/media relations,” according to a copy of the notification of investigation obtained by The Journal.
In speaking with a reporter, Brady “brings the Department into disrepute” and “impairs the operation or efficiency of the Department or officer,” according to the notice.
As the president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 307, Brady represents Catamero. During the Sept. 15 telephone interview, Brady expressed disappointment over Catamero’s firing. He said the officer was let go because high-ranking officers “didn’t like the way [Catamero] did things” while working traffic detail — an assertion that was also outlined in Catamero’s Aug. 31 U.S. District Court filing.
Catamero is a “straightforward, all business kind of guy,” who would write traffic tickets for “anybody, no matter who they were,” Brady added during the Sept. 15 interview.
Now Brady faces interrogation by the department’s internal affairs investigator, and possible suspension, for having that conversation, he said.
Prohibiting an employee, specifically a union president, from speaking to the media “raises very basic and serious First Amendment concerns,” said Steven Brown, the executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Police officers do not completely waive their First Amendment rights, especially if they are speaking in a capacity other than as an employee,” Brown said.
Mayor Joseph Polisena did not return repeated phone calls requesting a comment. On Wednesday, his secretary told a reporter waiting outside his office he was not going to speak on the issue because it is a personnel matter.
Similarly, Tamburini did not return several phone messages. After waiting for an hour inside the police station, his secretary said he would be down shortly.
About 20 minutes later, Deputy Chief Daniel O. Parrillo said he had no comment. The chief also had no comment, Parrillo said.
“There’s a lot going on. We’ll see how it plays out,” Parrillo said. “As you can see, I have a lot going on here. It’s a busy time and the organization has no comment right now.”
Brady said he will be represented by Gary T. Gentile, who is out of state on vacation until Monday.
In his suit, Catamero said he was fired because “he gave tickets to individuals who were related to or friendly with members of the administration” and he “failed to write more tickets that would be processed through the Johnston Municipal Court as opposed to the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.”
Lawyer William J. Conley Jr., Johnston’s town solicitor, filed an answer to Catamero’s complaint saying the officer’s firing in August had “nothing to do with ticket writing,” but instead because he told two supervisors: “When I put this uniform on, I feel like I want to kill someone.”