The Harvard University’s Ash Institute awarded to16 out of 800 finalists -The Innovations In Government Award- in 2009. One of the finalists was Lawrence’s Chief of Police John Romero. The qualifications are rigorous and the award granting exceedingly competitive. The award focuses on essential criteria including novelty, effectiveness, significance and transferability of initiatives to govern better. The Institute recognizes leaders who can not only formulate bold and innovative social policies but that can also implement them by solving problems in the public sector.
The people of Lawrence have benefited by the extraordinary leadership of Chief Romero. He arrived from the Bronx NY in 1999 and began an enlightened and sustained path of leadership which resulted in tangible results in improving the quality of life for all its citizens and law abiding residents. The most transparent accomplishments include the formulation of specialized auto theft, community policing, drug and gang, and domestic violence units. The insurance fraud task force was the latest in a series of innovations. There was a 60% reduction in felonies and 80% reduction in auto theft from 1998 until 2007, among other stellar results. What is not as transparent but yet significant was his consistent leadership in building a culture of professionalism and open communication. This is best exemplified by the implementation of policies for managing an ethnically and gender diverse police force many of them with deep ties to the community and with an immigrant past. Additional accomplishments include communicating better with other departments and the press, enhanced crime solving and reporting and improving professionalism among senior officers with training at the FBI academy -as well as a litany of service and community awards and recognitions.
If Lawrence is seeking a Renaissance, they need a Renaissance Man in the form of Chief Romero to transform it. With recent indictments of key officials at City Hall there still remains a possibility that the exit of Mayor Lantigua may occur and this presents a key opportunity for enlightened leadership in the form of Chief Romero to restore a broken and deeply conflicted city. If there is no such exit the Mayor’s announcement to run for a second term must galvanize a formidable opposition movement lead by a viable candidate with vision , passion and ability to enable those who wish not to vote for the Mayor, to replace him with someone that can fulfill the promise of a positive redirection for the city.
Romero has indicated that he wishes to complete his term as Police Chief, but the historic significance of the quality of leadership that he is capable of delivering should be a point for supporters to persuade him to reconsider his stated intentions.
Simply put Lawrence needs him.
Joe D’Amore writes from Groveland, MA
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