Chief says arrest of worker ‘borrowing tools’ could open city to suit
Col. Stephen McCartney, chief of police, said yesterday his department “can’t go forward” with the arrest of a city employee who was found carrying city equipment and supplies in his truck.
McCartney’s comments came in response to calls for the arrest of Kenneth Naylor, who has been placed on suspension from his job at the Department of Public Works after being stopped by police on Sept. 28 at about 8:30 p.m. Police said they watched Naylor unlock the gates at the city yard and leave after about a half hour. He was then stopped near the police station.
Police said they found an assortment of city tools, as well as some pipes, that were valued at $2,000 in Naylor’s truck. Naylor, a 13-year city worker, said he was “borrowing” the equipment, although he had not sought that permission, to clean up his yard. The pipes were to be used to support a sinking deck.
As the department has allowed personnel to borrow equipment, McCartney said it would be a mistake for the city to prosecute and, if it did, it could open the city to suit from Naylor.
Rob Cote, organizer of the Car Tax Revolt, has been especially vocal about the case, bringing the matter up on talk radio, writing letters to the news media and speaking at public forums.
At Tuesday’s informational session, called by Mayor Scott Avedisian at the Pilgrim Senior Center, Cote brought up Naylor again.
Cote claimed there is no written policy allowing city personnel to borrow equipment.
“If it’s unwritten, it doesn’t exist,” said Cote. “This man should be arrested but it’s being swept under the rug because it’s a union boy. No one’s doing anything about it even though detectives were assigned to this.”
In response, Avedisian said the city would welcome an investigation by the State Police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When Cote asked why the Warwick Police Department doesn’t conduct the investigation, Avedisian said, “Because someone will say, ‘You investigated your own people and you swept it under the rug.’”
McCartney said yesterday, “If Mr. Cote is so concerned about the city coffers, he ought to think about that [the possible liability the city could face] for a minute.”
According to City Personnel Director Oscar Shelton, Naylor was “severely” disciplined. He did not say for how long Naylor was suspended without pay. Shelton also said the city has since adopted a policy that forbids employees from being in the city yard after hours without authorization.