A Hummel Report Investigation
REHOBOTH - Police Chief Stephen Enos's days may be numbered, as two candidates who have supported the embattled chief were crushed in Monday's town wide election for selectmen, in what may be a record turnout at the polls.
Nearly 45 percent of Rehoboth's 7,700 registered voters sent a clear message Monday they were not satisfied with the leadership of the current board and its chairman Ken Foley, who lost by a 3-1 margin to challenger Mike Costello.
Joe Tito defeated Jim Paon by the same margin.
Both Tito and Costello said that while the town faces a host of divisive issues, a December drinking incident involving the chief at an East Providence restaurant that has kept Rehoboth in the headlines for weeks played a critical role in the election.
``It was a catalyst,'' said Tito, a surgeon and member of the Planning Board who made his first run for selectman. ``It woke people up and they started reading and questioning what was going on in this town.''
``The town wants change,'' said Costello, the chairman of the Planning Board. ``(We) cannot continue in the course it's going right now.''
Both men said throughout the campaign they would have placed Enos on administrative leave immediately following the incident at the Riviera Inn on Dec. 10th, where Enos admitted to driving his town-issued cruiser to a Christmas party after taking the narcotic Vicodin. The chief then had a mixed drink and hours later was found by city police lying in the driveway of nearby house screaming loudly that he wanted to die.
Selectmen Ken Foley and Don Leffort chalked it up to a bad mistake and reiterated their support for the chief, even after The Hummel Report found new details the board had overlooked. Selectman Kevin McBride resigned, in part, because of the way his fellow selectmen handled the situation. And that meant McBride's one-year unexpired term, plus Foley's seat, carrying a three-year term, were both up for grabs. Control of the board now goes to Tito and Costello who loosely ran together and share the same philosophy on town government, with Leffort as the odd man out.
Tito tells the Hummel Report has serious concerns about Enos as chief, although he stopped short of saying whether he would take any action, wanting to meet with him and the officers of the department first. Tito said he is concerned that some of the officers have applied to other departments because they are dissatisfied with Enos's leadership.
``This goes way beyond the Riviera Inn,'' he said Monday night ``It's a question of integrity and leadership.''
Enos's three-year contract expires at the end of September and it is unlikely that Tito and Costello would vote to renew it. Costello did not rule out putting the chief on administrative leave before then, but said he would like to see the minutes of the closed sessions the selectmen had with the chief about the December incident, which the board has refused to release.
The new members take over immediately and will attend their first meeting April 11th.