By K.C. Myers | Cape Cod Times
PROVINCETOWN — Getting rid of Police Chief Jeff Jaran could have occurred more quickly and cost the town nearly $163,000 less than it did, according to newly released minutes from closed-door selectmen meetings.
In May 2015, selectmen agreed to pay Jaran $512,797 after an arbitration panel determined he should have been suspended without pay for a year rather than fired for his actions related to the May 2013 town election that were found to violate local, state and federal laws.
Earlier this year, the Times requested the release of the minutes from executive session meetings that occurred between his termination in December of 2013 and the settlement agreement.
Last month, selectmen authorized Michele Randazzo, the town’s legal counsel with the law firm Kopelman & Paige, to release the minutes from 12 meetings over that period. But Randazzo blacked out chunks of the written records, citing attorney-client privilege, which allows conversations between public officials and their attorneys to remain private.
Randazzo refused to release the minutes of the entire executive session on Dec. 11, 2013, the night Jaran was fired, citing the exemption clause of the public records law that protects against an “unwarranted invasion of privacy.” Randazzo also cited an exemption in the public records law that is designed to protect witnesses. Several police officers testified before selectmen that night.
Despite being heavily redacted, the minutes clarified that Jaran had offered to be bought out of his contract for $350,000 prior to his termination.
At a May 27, 2014, executive session, there was some discussion about settling the case, according to the minutes.
John Giorgio, the town counsel, advised selectmen to negotiate before they went into an arbitration process, the minutes say.
Selectmen had previously offered Jaran $50,000 but he rejected that offer, according to the minutes.
The selectmen were not comfortable with Jaran’s $350,000 counteroffer, Assistant Town Administrator David Gardner said Monday.
There were no executive sessions on the topic provided to the Times between June 2014 and January 2015. The minutes from the January 2015 meeting contain nearly two pages of blacked-out information.
Selectmen didn’t meet again until April 27, 2015, after the arbitration panel ruled the town should have suspended Jaran rather than fire him. Arbitrators decided that Jaran should be paid $362,000 in lost benefits and salary.
At the end of May, executive session minutes record the selectmen agreeing to pay $512,796, which included the lost salary and wages, Jaran’s legal fees, plus $150,000 so Jaran would relinquish further options to sue the town. The town also gave up its right to appeal the arbitration hearing.
Reached Monday at his new job as the global security manager at a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge, although Jaran said he wanted to work for David Shield Executive Protection Services and other services alike. But he knew in 2013 that town officials wanted to get rid of him.
At the time, he was being roundly criticized for ordering police officers to collect names of witnesses at the Squealing Pig after he became offended by an N.W.A. song playing in the bar that contained anti-police lyrics.
Jaran also called a meeting of his police force to encourage his staff to support then-Selectman Austin Knight in the election because Knight was perceived as most supportive of police. An independent investigation found Jaran’s actions during the election violated the law.
Even prior to that investigation, which occurred in the fall of 2013, he had offered to leave for $350,000 as a buyout, Jaran said. That would have amounted to about 50 percent of what was owed to him on the remainder of his five-year contract, he said.
But the selectmen only offered $50,000, Jaran said.
“So I decided I’m in this for the long haul and will fight this through arbitration,” he said.
Selectman Erik Yingling declined to comment. Selectman Tom Donegan did not return an email for comment.
In the end, the town spent $79,248 in legal costs, arbitrator fees and overtime expenses for the arbitration process, on top of the $512,797, Gardner said.