2010-07-08 / Front Page

Chief Tighe retires and gets rehired

By Sam Bari

Thomas Tighe Thomas Tighe Jamestown Police Chief Thomas Tighe announced his retirement on Wednesday, June 30, at a special meeting of the Town Council.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser promptly rehired Tighe with a one-year contract the following day.

“I retired and they hired me back this morning,” Tighe told the Press last Thursday.

The chief went on to say that his retirement announcement was not expected. He agreed to work for one additional year, he said, because if he vacated his position immediately, the town would be without a police chief until it could find someone.

Tighe said he decided to retire for the same reasons as Lieutenant Bill Donovan and Detective Frank Watson. By retiring now, his retirement package and benefits will remain intact.

If he waited for the conclusion of contract negotiations between the town and the police union, there could be changes that would affect officers’ retirement packages. Tighe’s employment contract with the town is based on the town labor agreement with the police union.

“After 43 years of service, I didn’t want to take a chance on losing what I worked for,” Tighe said.

Keiser said that the Town Council met in executive session to discuss the contract negotiations with the police union. After the meeting, Tighe made his retirement announcement and the council voted unanimously to accept, he added.

“The next morning, we offered the chief a one-year contract for $37,000 if he would stay on and still be allowed to retire. He accepted the terms, and will continue fulfi lling his duties as before,” Keiser said.

The town has the right to renew the contract at the end of the year and in subsequent years, if it so desires, Keiser added.

“It isn’t an automatic renewal,” he said. “We are in a transition year. We will look at our staffing and operations over the next 12 months and explore our options.”

Keiser also said that the town will hire a management consultant to evaluate the department, suggest appropriate changes to meet the town’s future needs and propose effi ciencies.

With the retirements of Lt. Donovan and Detective Watson, Tighe said, “We have already made some temporary promotions within the department to compensate for two senior members retiring within weeks of each other.”

Sgt. Angela Denault is now the acting lieutenant.

“Her duties are going to be more than just administrative,” Tighe said. “She will still be an active officer spending some time on patrol.”

Officer Derek Carlino is the acting detective, and officer John Areson is an acting sergeant, Tighe added.

“We’re going through promotion examinations and testing now, and if at all possible, we will promote within the organization,” he said.

“We have already reduced the staff of 15 officers to 14,” Keiser said. “Nonetheless, the impact of the loss of veterans of the caliber of Bill Donovan and Frank Watson is difficult to quantify. Both Bill and Frank gave tremendous dedicated and effective service to the community for over 60 years between them.

“In moving forward with a relatively young department, savings will be realized in benefits associated with long-term service. Lower longevity pay, reduced staffing and the difference between the chief’s yearly salary and the $37,000 yearly contract will cut departmental payroll by more than $100,000 per year,” Keiser added.

This will be a transition year for the department, Tighe said.

“Whenever there are major changes in management, they need time to adjust,” he said.

Tighe has been with the Jamestown Police Department since 1967. When he joined, he was given six months to move onto the island.

“That was the law back then,” Tighe said. “Department personnel had to live in Jamestown.”

Tighe, a native Rhode Islander, grew up an only child in East Providence. After graduating from high school, he immediately enlisted in the Air Force and served from 1962 to 1966.

“I only joined for one reason,” he said, “to join the military police, which I did. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a police officer.”

While working as a full-time officer, Tighe transferred his credits from Bryant University and attended Salve Regina University as a part-time student, earning a graduate degree in criminal justice. He has continued to further his education throughout his career by attending classes to keep abreast of modern techniques and technology used by police forces across the country.

Tighe was promoted to acting chief in 1992, and official chief in 1993.

He and his wife, Anne, have raised three children since they moved to the island. Their daughter, Rosanne, 43, works for Roger Williams State Park and the Pawtucket Red Sox in the summer.

Their oldest son, Thomas Patrick, 42, graduated from Bridgewater College and works in the communications industry. Their youngest, Howard, 38, is a deputy fire chief and the Jamestown Fire Marshal. Howard and his wife, Jill, gave Chief Tighe and Anne their first grandchildren, Ellie Grace, 3, and Abby, 19 months.

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