By Lyle Moran | orignal article
LOWELL — Police Superintendent William Taylor is making three promotions to lieutenant in the midst of an ongoing legal case in which two potential promotions of other sergeants are being challenged in Superior Court.
Taylor said Friday he is promoting Sgts. Gregory Hudon, Steven Coyle and temporary Lt. Matthew Penrose to lieutenant. The promotions become effective Sunday.
Coyle, an 18-year department veteran, most recently served as commanding officer of the Traffic Unit. He helped develop a strategy to target traffic enforcement in hopes of reducing criminal behavior.
Coyle will now be charged with spearheading drug and gang investigations in the city.
Hudon, a 16-year man, most recently worked as a patrol supervisor on the late-night shift and has spent years training other officers. He will now serve as alternative shift commander for the late-night shift.
Penrose, also a 16-year veteran, was most recently the alternative shift commander on the late-night shift. He has also served as the department’s CPR/first responder instructor his entire career.
As lieutenant, Penrose will lead the problem-solving and community-policing efforts in the city’s B sector.
“I am extremely happy to promote these three individuals to the rank of lieutenant,” Taylor said in a statement. “These are the future leaders of our organization and each one will be responsible for a critical management role within the Department.”
Hudon was first on the list to be promoted based on a late-April promotional exam, while Coyle and Penrose were tied for second with Sgts. Donald Crawford and John Cullen.
Sgt. Steven O’Neill recently filed suit seeking to prevent the promotions of Crawford and Cullen, alleging they live in New Hampshire in violation of state law and city ordinance requiring Massachusetts residency. As of the most recent promotion list, O’Neill was ninth.
O’Neill, of Tyngsboro, last week obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the city and Taylor from promoting Crawford, who admits to living in New Hampshire.
The city is still prohibited from promoting Crawford as a Superior Court judge weighs whether to issue a preliminary injunction barring Crawford’s promotion.
A request for a temporary restraining order preventing the promotion of Cullen was denied, but O’Neill’s attorney requested Judge Laurence Pierce to consider a preliminary injunction preventing Cullen’s promotion. The Civil Service Commission found Cullen appears to live in Dracut.
After a court hearing Tuesday, Judge Pierce asked all parties to submit updated briefs within a week.
Taylor said he consulted the city’s Law Department and the state’s Human Resources Division before moving forward with the promotions.
“The consensus was we could promote three sergeants, while we held the fourth lieutenant position vacant pending the resolution of the litigation as quickly as possible,” said Taylor. “Everyone was in agreement that was the most logical step at this point. Each one of these promotions is critically important and long overdue.”
Ryan Sullivan of Tewksbury, O’Neill’s attorney, said Friday: “The fact that the city is not promoting the sergeants we are stating live in New Hampshire is agreeable. We are hopeful either through the court ordering the city not to promote these sergeants or the city recognizing its ordinance should be enforced that this will be the status quo and Sgt. O’Neill will be considered for any future promotions to lieutenant.”
Andrew Gambaccini, Crawford’s Worcester-based attorney, said it was not surprising his client was not among the promoted because of the court prohibition. He also said his client congratulates the three lieutenants promoted.
“We are hopeful with the supplemental briefing the judge will dissolve the injunction and Sgt. Crawford would be promoted in short order,” said Gambaccini. “If Sgt. O’Neill wanted to be among the promoted, he should have performed better on the assessment center.”