Tug-of-war over 3- or 5-year contract

Police Chief Fred Ryan has been selected to lead the MBTA police force, the State House News Service reported Friday, Dec. 12.

A report by Andy Metzger says members of the board that would make the hire want more limits on the contract before approving the appointment.

"I'm honored to have been offered the job, and I look forward to ironing out the details," Ryan told the News Service.

The Arlington native would take over for Paul MacMillan, who was appointed chief almost seven years ago and has spent 31 years in the department. MacMillan retired Nov. 1.

Ryan was appointed chief of the Arlington police in November 1999.

Chairman John Jenkins raised concerns about the length of the contract offer that MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott described to the state transportation board on Thursday, Dec. 11, but told the News Service he had no qualms with the selection of Ryan, describing him as an "outstanding candidate."

No closed session

The discussion Thursday about upcoming contract negotiations could have been held in a closed-door executive session, but the agenda did not provide for an executive session, which requires advance notice, the news service reported. YourArlington received a copy of that report.

YourArlington learned in late November about the possibility that Ryan would leave, asked the chief about the rumors and agreed to wait for official confirmation.

As recently as early Dec. 11, a source said the issue before the MBTA board was whether the ciontract should be three or five years.

"This discussion is public and available to the candidate," advised general counsel Paige Scott Reed midway into the back-and-forth.

An MBTA spokesman told the news service that documents related to the appointment would be made public after they are voted on. The board decided to come to agreement on the contract offer at an executive session on Tuesday afternoon.

Metzger, who broke the story, was once a reporter for The Advocate.

5-year pact; $188,000 a year

Scott said the agreement would be for five years with a salary of $188,000, which is slightly more than MacMillan made and about $18,000 more than Ryan's salary in Arlington.

"I think five years is a long time," said Jenkins, suggesting three years and asserting the board's authority over the hire. He said, "This is our hire. This is not the general manager's hire."

Scott told reporters after the meeting that she appreciated Ryan's approach to community policing, diversity in the department, "ethical decision-making" and said he would bring a balanced approach toward contract negotiations. Referring to Arlington, Scott said he had taken over for a "department that had been troubled."

"We're going to grab him," Scott said. She said the MBTA has some "very seasoned folks" who can handle operations, and she was looking for a leader.

Donna Scott, the assistant director of staffing, said the MBTA received 94 applications for the post overseeing a staff of 266 sworn police officers and a budget of just under $19 million. Out of all those who initially sought the job, 56 applicants met the minimum requirements, and 22 candidates participated in a phone interview, including six internal candidates, Donna Scott said.

Ryan was selected over Grayling Williams, a chief inspector in the Pennsylvania attorney general's office, and Andrew Olson, a deputy chief of the Metro Transit police in Minneapolis, Minn., according to the assistant director of staffing.

Kenneth Green is the MBTA's acting police chief, and Beverly Scott said the MBTA is looking for a Feb. 1 start date.

Ryan had been a finalist for chief of police in Cambridge in 2007. That job went to Robert Haas, former secretary of public safety in the Romney administration.

Donna Scott said that Williams is a black man, while Ryan and Olson are white men. She said when the field was narrowed to six the candidates included four white men, one black man and one black woman.

Ryan, an Arlington native whose father worked for the town, has been well regarded in Arlington by many residents, officials and members of his force. An appreciation about his work with the community following numerous break-ins in the Turkey Hill neighborhood, reflects some of that feeling.

This story was published atr 3:12 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.