Former Falmouth Police Dispatcher Called Attention to Chief's Contract
By: Brent Runyon
Since Matthew W. Newton, 21, was passed over for a full-time position and then fired from his job as a part-time civilian dispatcher for the Falmouth Police Department earlier this year, one of his stated goals is to get back at Chief Anthony J. Riello and the three Falmouth police captains.
“I want to kick them back twice as hard as they kicked me,” Mr. Newton said. “You come after me, I come after you, guns blazing.”
Mr. Newton of Davedon Avenue, Hatchville, was passed over for a full-time dispatcher position earlier this spring because of attendance and performance issues, according to the town. He was later fired after a disciplinary hearing in August, following an allegation that he left his post for an hour and a half without permission.
But Mr. Newton claims that he was the most qualified candidate for the full-time position, and was a victim of age discrimination, which resulted in the job being posted for outside candidates. He filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in June to that end.
As for the allegations that he left his shift without permission, Mr. Newton said it is standard practice when working an overnight shift to go to 7-Eleven to get a snack. He said he did that but was only gone a maximum of 10 minutes, not the hour and a half that the department claimed.
Now he said he is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the town for civil rights violations, including what he said was an illegal background check conducted by Falmouth police during his application for the full-time position.
The application also included a personality test to see which candidates had the characteristics to be most effective at the job. Last week, Mr. Newton produced a copy of the test he took, showing that he scored higher than the other candidates in most categories deemed important for the position.
Mr. Newton also produced a copy of the results of the same test that he says Chief Riello took to set the bar for the test.
He also said he scored higher than Chief Riello on many of the categories, including “accountability for others.”
Mr. Newton said this proves that Chief Riello does not have the skills to be an effective police chief, because a police chief needs to be accountable for his officers.
The test results are just the most recent example of Mr. Newton’s efforts to get back at Chief Riello.
Last week, Mr. Newton brought to light the previously unreported fact that Chief Riello got a $10,000 raise in 2009.
He provided a copy of Chief Riello’s contract to a newspaper reporter, and was cited in that article as an anonymous Falmouth resident, although Mr. Newton said he would have preferred to have been named.
“They did me wrong, and they thought I was going to just go away, but I’m never going to let it go,” he said.
It was an ongoing issue for Mr. Newton as an employee for the police department that Chief Riello did not know his first name.
“He was calling me Michael,” Mr. Newton said. “He didn’t even know my name.”
Mr. Newton, who is the son of Shardell Newton, Department of Public Works facilities manager, and Falmouth Firefighter William A. Newton, said Chief Riello also mistook Falmouth Patrol Officer Andrew T. Loewen for him and vice versa.
Mr. Newton said he believes that Falmouth Police Captain Stephen M. O’Neil and Captain Edward A. Dunne disliked him because he followed the town’s collective bargaining agreement to the letter.
He would like to get his job back and come back to the police department and eventually become a police officer.
Asked if he felt he could work for Chief Riello and the three Falmouth police captains, Mr. Newton said, “They’ll retire eventually.”
Falmouth Police Chief Anthony J. Riello this week corrected statements from Matthew W. Newton, who is contesting his dismissal from the police department. Mr. Newton asserted he scored higher than Chief Riello on a test given to candidates for the job of dispatcher. Chief Riello said he wrote the test and did not take it. Further, in the category of accountability for others in the test, a score of zero is appropriate because a dispatcher is not held accountable for others.