An Open Letter to the Citizens of Wellesley from Police Chief Jack Pilecki
I thought it appropriate to take a few moments and write to our citizens about a few important issues facing cities and towns across the country, including Wellesley. I don’t need to tell anyone how difficult these times have been with so many things happening. Just as it seems we
were nearing the end of the Covid-19 crisis, a horrible and inexcusable tragedy occurred in Minnesota. I sense a great deal of fear and anxiety in people with whom I come into contact. I want you to know that the Wellesley Police Department will continue to serve our residents and visitors with the care, respect, and compassion that everyone deserves.
Let me be clear, there is no room in Law Enforcement for the actions of the officer(s) involved in the death of George Floyd. Police brutality should never be tolerated in any form. My profession needs to change in several areas, and these changes require reforms within police departments. As importantly, these reforms must include action by our citizens to speak out and demand them through a peaceful process that ensures the safety of everyone. I commend those people in Wellesley who have organized the recent peaceful protests. I can assure you that as long as they are non-violent, the Wellesley Police will continue to provide assistance and support to people who desire to exercise their First Amendment right by establishing a safe venue.
Many people are seeking to “defund the police”. I agree that citizens deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent, especially in light of the various atrocities committed by police officers in other police departments. For my part, I am committed to reviewing how the WPD allocates its funding, and to take any steps necessary to more effectively administer our budget.
In recent weeks, I have received a great many letters and emails from people asking to know more about the policies of the WPD. They are concerned and sometimes scared that something like what happened in Minneapolis could happen here in Wellesley. I promise you that our department does everything possible to make sure such a horrific incident will not happen here. Further, I can assure everybody that our policies include, but are not limited to, topics such as Use of Force, Use of Force Reporting, Bias Based Policing, Accountability and Discipline, Duty to Intervene, and Threshold Inquiries. We also have rules governing Impartial Treatment, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer, and Neglect of Duty, among others.
We start by recruiting and hiring officers through comprehensive procedures and testing, who are motivated to provide help to all citizens fairly, professionally, and without bias. We do not hire officers who relish making unnecessary arrests. (Although it is gratifying to apprehend a suspect who exploited and or harmed an innocent person, this is only one part of our job). We want officers who desire to work closely with this wonderful community to ensure the well-being and safety of everyone. We want officers whose first instinct is to help someone, not hurt someone. We want officers who value and respect the rights of everyone, no matter the color of their skin. We want officers who treat people in a kind and compassionate manner.
Proper training is another component that ensures our officers act professionally. The department provides this training to our officers and dispatchers in many different areas. Our people need to be prepared for anything because we respond to everything, from a lost child to a domestic assault. In addition to the 40 hours per year of state mandated in-service training, our officers attend training in de-escalation techniques which helps them defuse antagonistic or volatile situations. We also spend time training on how to best handle people with mental health issues, on crisis intervention, Narcan administration, and many more subjects. We recently finished a course in basic sign language to help our officers communicate with people with
hearing problems. Many officers receive specialized training that needs to be kept current, such as accident re-construction and computer crimes. Additionally, most of our officers are certified emergency medical technicians because the police are usually the first to arrive on medical calls for service.
Defensive Tactics is taught on a yearly basis, usually mandated by the Training Council. Our officers are taught to use the most measured restraint of a suspect as possible. This is called the Force Continuum. In short, officers are instructed to respond with a level of force appropriate to the situation at hand, acknowledging that the officer may move from one part of the continuum to another in a matter of seconds, depending upon the situation.
Each training subject is vital and we do our best to provide current and useful instruction to the officers. This year has been a challenge. Given the Covid-19 crisis we have had to put on hold a great deal of our training. This complicates things because we are behind in providing the
training we planned on this spring, while now needing to move forward with the training we planned for the new fiscal year. That said, we are planning classes this month on Implicit Bias given it has been a few years since our officers received it and because the training has evolved greatly over the years.
In 2014, the Wellesley Police Department received full accreditation status from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. This is a voluntary process by which departments strive to meet and maintain the best practices in the police profession. Department policies, procedures, rules, and regulations are a significant part of accreditation. As part of this process, the WPD has met over 325 individual standards relating to best practices.
While it is critical to have and faithfully execute these policies and rules, I firmly believe that the most important aspect of our profession is to hire quality officers and dispatchers. We have done this and will continue to do so in order to further our number one goal of providing excellent service. While we can’t make everyone happy or solve every problem, I am extremely confident that our people will continue to treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter the situation.
Finally, I would like to thank all the families, friends, organizations, and groups that have been so helpful during these extraordinary months. The outpouring of support has been nothing short of amazing. Every member of the WPD appreciates everything the community has done for us.
I encourage anyone who has a question to either call me or contact me at [email protected].
Chief of Police