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Arlington Officer Placed On Leave After Writing Police Should Meet 'Violence With Violence'

Arlington Police Lt. Rick Pedrini, left, watches a police vs. fire hockey game in 2016. (Courtesy of Melanie Mendez/Wicked Local)MoreCloseclosemore
Arlington Police Lt. Rick Pedrini, left, watches a police vs. fire hockey game in 2016. (Courtesy of Melanie Mendez/Wicked Local)

The incoming head of an organization representing police officers across Massachusetts has been placed on paid administrative leave in Arlington after he called for officers to meet "violence with violence" and forget about restraint in a series of columns that targeted elected leaders, criminal justice reform and former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

"I am sick and tired of the social justice warriors telling us how to do our jobs," Arlington police Lt. Rick Pedrini wrote in one column for the Massachusetts Police Association (MPA) newsletter The Sentinel. "It’s time we forget about 'restraint', 'measured responses', 'procedural justice', 'de-escalation', 'stigma-reduction', and other feel-good BS that is getting our officers killed. Let’s stop lipsynching, please! Let’s meet violence with violence and get the job done."

Arlington Police Lt. Rick Pedrini (Courtesy of the Massachusetts Police Association)
Arlington Police Lt. Rick Pedrini (Courtesy of the Massachusetts Police Association)

In a statement, Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said he was "deeply disturbed" by the contents in the MPA newsletter and said the town and police department would "thoroughly investigate."

The columns by Pedrini, first reported by MassLive, were published in a 2018 issue of The Sentinel. The issue's cover featured Yarmouth Sgt. Sean Gannon and Weymouth Sgt. Michael Chesna, two officers killed in the line of duty this year.

The three columns, published back-to-back in the issue, give updates on legislation such as the newly signed criminal justice bill, which Pedrini called "100 plus pages of blather and feel‐good initiatives that will do nothing to put maggot criminals behind bars." His writing also veers into criticisms of immigration, local leaders and the Black Lives Matter movement. Pedrini calls Chesna's killer an "animal (that) needs to be put down, but unfortunately this is Massachusetts."

In an interview Tuesday morning, before the announcement that Pedrini would be placed on leave, Pedrini defended his writing as "a tongue-in-cheek political satire for the membership" of MPA that was never intended for wider consumption.

"It's an association newsletter," he said. "It's not meant to be taken word for word."

Pedrini said he didn't believe the things he wrote. So why write it? "It's satire," he said. "It's supposed to be entertainment."

Asked if he regretted what he wrote, he said, "No comment."

Pedrini insisted that his written words have "nothing to do with how I conduct myself professionally. I don't get citizen complaints. I'm bought into the procedural justice and all the ideals the Arlington police stand for."

Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan said in an interview that Pedrini's comments are in "direct conflict with the values and mission of the Arlington Police Department and the community as a whole." Ryan is a member of the state's Harm Reduction Commission and Arlington is taking part in a data-driven justice project seeking to break the cycle of incarceration.

"We’re only as good as the trust that the people place in us," Ryan said, "and these comments compromise that trust and I'm very concerned about it."

Ryan had said he planned to deal with the situation "swiftly and certainly." Ryan is an MPA member and says he'll be reevaluating his membership.

The outgoing executive director of the MPA, Jim Machado, said in an interview that he hadn't read any of Pedrini's columns before they were published. Machado's "Legislative Report" appears in the page before Pedrini's column, titled "Man on the Street."

Machado said the columns were Pedrini's opinion and that at an MPA conference last week officers were mixed on their response — some agreed, while others thought it was over the top.

"He's a respected guy in the law enforcement community in the Boston area," Machado said. He added that other officers likely agree that those who kill officers are "maggots."

Pedrini's columns had a range of targets: Democratic Suffolk County District Attorney nominee Rachael Rollins, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and immigrants.

In one section, Pedrini compared immigrants trying to cross the southern border to Pearl Harbor:

I have to chuckle at our border enforcement. The federal government is sending troops to the border and the liberals complain. Then we’re told, they have no enforcement authority. Meanwhile, a “caravan” of illegals is traveling up through Mexico to demand all the rights of US citizens when they get here. ... Back on December 7th, 1941, a caravan of Japanese planes tried this in Hawaii. We shot at them. Hell, we didn’t even suspend posse comitatus. The famed Japanese Admiral Yamamoto once said, “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would (be) a rifle behind every blade of grass.” How times have changed. Today, we’d let them land on our airstrips.

Pedrini's columns have a stream-of-consciousness quality, jumping from complaints about stalled legislation to the election of progressive candidates to cultural criticism.

"How about that nut who decided to ruin the Fourth of July in NYC by climbing up the Statue of Liberty? Just your typical self-absorbed radical whose sole motive is to piss off regular Americans. I know I’m not the only one who was rooting for her to fall...and land on Kaepernick.

"Somerville Mayor and Progressive Hero Joe Curtatone came out yesterday to
announce that Columbus Day will now be known as Indigenous People’s Day. What a farce! Some folks will say anything to please the Antifa, BLM, America-hater crowd. All this from a guy who dresses up in a Christopher Columbus costume every year. C’mon man..."

The following paragraph targets dockless bicycles and dedicated bus and bike lanes.

Pedrini, who is a member of the MPA executive committee, is scheduled to take over as the executive director of the organization in January.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Rachael Rollins is the Suffolk district attorney. She is the Democratic nominee. We regret the error.

Ally Jarmanning Twitter Digital Producer
Ally is a reporter who champions data and public records in the WBUR newsroom.

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