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Worcester Human Rights Comm’n Calls for End to Civil Service

By Tom Marino | May 6, 2024
Last Updated: May 6, 2024

WORCESTER – The Worcester Human Rights Commission unanimously voted to recommend City Manager Eric Batista move Worcester away from the Massachusetts Civil Service system.

The vote took place during the Human Rights Commission’s meeting on Monday evening. Personnel from the Worcester Police Department were present at the meeting. Interim Chief of Police Paul Saucier said the department would support moving away from the system if City Manager Eric Batista elected to do so.

Captain Kenneth Davenport, who is commander of the Police Department’s Bureau of Professional Standard, which conducts internal investigations, was also at the meeting. The commission and police personnel discussed misconduct complaints, police department policies, and other issues within the commission’s purview.

An independent report on racial equity within the Worcester Police Department, released in March, recommended the city consider withdrawing from the Civil Service system.

Batista recommended that city council approve removing the Chief of Police and Deputy Chief positions from the Civil Service system. Council approved the recommendation unanimously. All other police department personnel remain in the system. The Civil Service system, launched in 1880, is a standardizes testing system that determines eligibility for hiring and promotions as public safety personnel. The system includes firefighters, correctional officers and police officers.

Municipalities may opt-out of the system. Thirty-seven municipalities in Massachusetts have done so.

A state judge ruled in October 2022 that the Civil Service conducted its promotional exam in a way that amounted to a discriminatory process. In April 2023, Massachusetts agreed to pay $40 million to settle a class action lawsuit against the Civil Service system.

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