Provincetown News and Information
Police Chief Ted Meyer on Tuesday announced his intention to retire when his contract expires in four months, citing a lack of support from selectmen.
Meyer had been in negotiations with the town to extend his five-year contract, which expires on Jan. 13, until 2008, when Meyer will reach the state police association mandatory retirement age of 65.
“However with the current state of some events beyond my control, I believe it is in the best interest of the town, the [police] department and my family to conclude my five years of service in Provincetown by retiring at the termination of my current contract,” Meyer wrote in a memo to Town Manager Keith Bergman.
Reached at his office Tuesday, Meyer said he had been told about a vote by selectmen in executive session on Aug. 28 in which he received only two of five possible votes to extend his contract.
“I lost the vote is what happened,” he said. “I don’t know why exactly because we don’t have those kinds of conversations. I was surprised.”
None of the selectmen contacted would discuss the contract talks with Meyer, citing the confidentiality of personnel negotiations. One town official, who asked not to be named, said there was a series of issues involving the police department over the past five years which eroded support for the chief.
“It’s time for the chief to go,” the official said. “That department is demoralized and has been since [former Police Chief Robert] Anthony. Ted had five years to correct that problem and he hasn’t.”
Selectman Sarah Peake, who has often been at odds with Meyer during his tenure, said she thanks him for his service and wishes him the best in his future plans. She said the Board of Selectmen would ensure a smooth transition, possibly appointing an interim acting police chief to run the department until a new town manager is hired.
Bergman’s contract expires in May and a search is currently underway for his replacement.
“That [interim acting chief appointment] will give the new town manager the chance to select one of their key department heads,” Peake said.
Cheryl Andrews, selectmen chair, said she was disappointed with the timing of Meyer’s departure, pointing out that Bergman could be leaving either before or shortly after Meyer’s departure.
“Unfortunately, we could be dealing with a turnover in the town manager’s office at the same time,” she said.
That concern was echoed by Steve Tait, president of the Provincetown Business Guild, a gay-oriented business association, who pointed out that in addition to Bergman, Peake is currently running for state representative and if she wins, would presumably resign from the Board of Selectmen, and Andrews will end her service on the board in May because of term limits.
“The town can’t really afford to have such a significant turnover of leaders,” Tait said. “We have some real challenges in town.”
Coincidently, the PBG had a board meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening where the issue of extending Meyer’s contract was on the agenda. Tait said some PBG members had expressed concerns about renewing the chief’s contract because of a perception his policing methods have hurt tourism. Tait cited examples of the department’s use of “protective custody” to crack down on disorderly behavior, arresting numerous tourists for carrying “poppers” through Provincetown Airport, and the recent effort to address a perceived problem of gays verbally harassing heterosexuals.
“He had kind of a rocky start, … there were a number of issues where the community felt the police were overzealous,” Tait said, adding that he was impressed with how Meyer addressed those concerns when they were brought to his attention.
“The chief has grown dramatically over the years. Those things are largely behind us,” Tait added. “I have a very good rapport with him and have a very good working relationship and open lines of communication.”
Candice Collins-Boden, executive director of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce, said she was personally fond of Meyer and that he had “made great strides with the business community.” However, she said, she has been disappointed with what she perceived as a lack of police presence in town during the summer.
“Where were the summer cops? Did anyone direct traffic? During the [Carnival] parade, there weren’t enough police officers to keep the crowds back,” Collins-Boden said, adding, “The police department is a little too invisible.”
Bergman said that the next step would likely be to appoint an interim acting chief, agreeing with Peake that the new town manager should have the opportunity to choose one of key department heads. The interim chief will come from inside the police department, he said.
Bergman originally hired Meyer and he and the chief have had a close relationship over the past five years.
“I respect and support Ted Meyer’s decision to announce his retirement, and wish him all the best,” Bergman said. “My thanks to Chief Meyer for his five years of service to the town of Provincetown and best wishes upon his upcoming retirement. I have very much enjoyed working with him.”
I agree with Candice, I was surprised by the lack of policemen in Provincetown this year.
My family loves the dancing cop, Bob I think his name is, at Lopes square near the Governor Bradford but we didn’t see him much.
Also, what was the deal with those lunatics from Greenpeace in Provincetown last week. They were in front of town hall one day then in front of the Art House and Post Office the next day.
They were stepping in front of tourists saying shit like “You support the environment, right?” and anyone with a green shirt was abrutly greeted with the stupid statement “Green shirt. Greenpeace?”
Provincetown is going through some MAJOR changes and if things are not handled well between now and Memorial Day of 2007, it could be the start of a LONG dry spell for Provincetown.