February 2, 2023

Seekonk Officials Silent on Police Chief Removal

Posted

Seekonk Town officials have been noticeably silent following last week’s vote to terminate the employment of Police Chief Dean Isabella.

The Board of Selectmen voted January 18 to terminate Isabella’s employment contract, which still had nearly a year remaining. The members include Chairman Justin Sullivan, Christopher Zorra, David Andrade, Adam Petronio, and Michael Healy.

Isabella was hired in December 2020. On January 6, Town Administrator Shawn Cadime suspended Isabella and placed him on paid administrative leave.

Isabella has since filed a lawsuit against the Town of Seekonk and the Board of Selectmen for breach of contract.

Sullivan said all inquiries about Isabella were to go through the Town Administrator’s office. Cadime declined to comment for this story.

Isabella, a resident of Narragansett, made two $500 donations to Providence Mayor Brett Smiley’s campaign in May and June of 2022. Isabella previously worked for the Department of Children, Youth, and Families in Rhode Island as assistant director of Child Services, overseeing the Child Protective Services unit that investigates child abuse. Isabella had been a member of the Providence Police Department since 1987 and retired as a captain in 2019.

“My client has been a supporter of Mayor Smiley for years, long before his successful run for Mayor this time around,” said Isabella’s attorney Eric Brainsky.

“Chief Isabella has made political donations to many candidates that he supported and believed in over the years,” Brainsky continued. “It by no means is indicative of his intentions for present or future employment.”

Brainsky noted Isabella has not applied for the position of Providence Police Chief and “to my knowledge, has no intention of doing so.”

Deputy Chief David Enos is running the department until a new chief can be hired. 

Isabella told the Reporter January 10 that under his leadership, the department has either "met or exceeded" the standards used to determine a successful police department.

"We have reduced crime every year for the last two years," Isabella noted. "As far as professionalism is concerned, we have had only one civilian complaint lodged. I think that's a testament to the professionalism of the officers involved but also a testament to the command staff and the standard by which they hold those officers."

Isabella's predecessor, Frank John, had a short-lived tenure as Police Chief. John was placed on administrative leave in March 2019, less than six months after being appointed to the position. John resigned in July 2019. Enos served as interim Chief until Isabella was hired.

Prior to Isabella’s termination, Cadime said the police department needed to undergo a “directional shift.”

"I do not believe there needs to be any concerns from our residents nor do I believe that there is a systemic problem," Cadime explained. "As town leaders, we took actions that we felt were appropriate for the town and our organization. Far too often, we see people in leadership positions who ignore and fail to address personnel matters because of their complexity and the (difficulty) associated with having to take action. We have never subscribed to that approach. We will continue to address personnel issues regardless of the complexity or positions and will continue to act in the best interest of the town."   

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