Carnevale Still Serves on Prov. Retirement Board—Voted to Keep Pension of Fired Police Officer

Thursday, January 26, 2017


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Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza tried -- unsuccessfully -- to have Marchant's pension revoked.

The Providence Retirement Board on Wednesday voted to uphold the pension of a police officer fired in 2015 for making a racially charged statement about a black police officer, despite efforts by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza to deny it.

And, former Providence Police Officer and State Representative John Carnevale — who was charged with perjury and filing false documents earlier this month, and pleaded not guilty — is still serving in his capacity as a board member, and voted in the majority on Wednesday to uphold the fired officer's pension. 

Elorza had said that former Providence Police Sgt. David Marchant’s racially offensive statements made while responding to a report of a potentially dangerous package at Brown University not only made him unfit to be a police officer, they made him undeserving of a city pension.

The Office of the Mayor had issue the following statement prior to the board’s decision.

“Upon hearing of Mr. Marchant's racially-biased and discriminatory statements about another police officer, we immediately moved to terminate his employment from the police department. His suggestion that one officer's safety was somehow less important than another's simply because of that officer's race showed a callous disregard for his fellow officers and for the standards we expect of our employees. As such, I call on the city's Retirement Board to revoke his pension and send a strong message that this conduct constitutes "dishonorable service" and will not be tolerated in Providence,” said Elorza.

On Wednesday, however, the Retirement Board voted 7-2 to uphold Marchant’s pension, with City Finance Director Lawrence Mancini and April Chase Lubitz voting to deny. Board member Sylvia Bernal abstained. 

About the Vote

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Councilman Igliozzi

The decision to fire Marchant came after he was questioned by another officer after police protocols weren’t followed with the handling of the package. As WPRI reported in 2015, Marchant said “how I handled it was okay because I had the black officer open the package.” The sergeant says it was intended to be a joke, and that making racial remarks was a way to relieve stress at the time.

“Let me be clear, no one’s defending his statement,” said Providence City Councilman and board member John Igliozzi on Wednesday, who voted to maintain Marchant’s pension. “We think this was a slippery slope if we start stripping individuals of their pension. Clearly his words were not acceptable and they were racially charged.  The officer was officially terminated, and he's basically unemployable.”

“Because there is no standard, what happens if a person was disciplined 3 times during a 30 year career -- does that impact their pension? Currently there is no standard. There are no guidelines,” said Igliozzi. “It would be irresponsible for the board to act with no standards.”

Councilman on the Record

Igliozzi spoke about his decision to fight the revocation of the pension.

“The facts we know, are that Marchant worked for the Providence Police Department for 21 years, and his personnel file shows that for 20 years, 11 months and 364 days -- there were no blemishes, nor grievances in his file,” said Igliozzi. “He was promoted through the ranks and brought up to sergeant.”

“We know that on that particular day between him and couple of officers -- for 20 seconds on that one day -- 7 words were uttered to a fellow officer that could be perceived as being racially charged. His statement was that he was joking,” said Igliozzi. “We also learned that the Commissioner and the Police Department offered him to have a couple of days off and keep his job….and that no sensitivity training or counseling was offered to rehabilitate.”

“So the administration moved from offering to keep his job with days off, to then moving to termination -- clearly those words were uttered by him” said Igliozzi. "But now they want the board to strip him of his pension based on his behavior — the quandary was that you had no problem with him keeping his job, but when the settlement went sour, they wanted it both ways. They offered for him to keep his job, and now they want they want to exact additional political revenge.”

Igliozzi spoke to what he said was the lack of attempt by the city to offer Marchant sensitivity training after the incident. 

“When you deal with employment law, an employer, if they can, should try and rehabilitate an employee, “ said Igliozzi. “What would be a better message to send? That if an employee transgresses, then they can get training and apologize. This wasn't about brutality, attacking a citizen, or discharging a weapon - this was a conversation between officers.”

Igliozzi noted that board member Ray Hull, who is a State Representative  — and black Providence police officer — voted to uphold Marchant’s pension in the vote. 


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