Police union comes to defense of Franklin officer

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge invites Councilman Fanale to discuss his concerns

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Facebook fallout

Feb. 25: Franklin Officer Rafael Burgos enters burning pet store to save animals, suffering a smoke-inhalation injury.
March 11: Resident criticizes Councilman David Fanale who made a post on his Facebook page saying Burgos deserved disciplinary action.
March 19: Fanale posts detailed account of encounter with Roxbury police, calling the officers "pigs."
March 25: Residents call for Fanale to be barred from voting on police matters. Mayor Paul Crowley says that is not possible.
April 1: Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 57 releases statement defending Burgos and inviting Fanale to meeting to discuss issues.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 57 has come to the defense of Officer Rafael Burgos, who was injured after entering a burning pet store on Feb. 25.

While many residents hail Burgos as a hero for his life-saving actions, Fanale publicly criticized the officer's actions, which led to a smoke-inhalation injury.

"I am not going to meet with a bunch of union mob thugs without representation."
Franklin Councilman David Fanale

“A police officer who decides to enter a hazardous situation without proper training, without proper equipment, where no human life is at risk, isn’t a hero, he’s a fool,” Fanale wrote on his Facebook page after the event. “He deliberately placed himself in a dangerous scenario, unnecessarily placed his well-being at risk, and is NOT deserving of ‘hero’ status, but rather, disciplinary action.”

Franklin Detective Nevin Mattesich — who presides over the lodge, made up of officers from Franklin, Hamburg and Ogdensburg — released a statement countering Fanale’s comments, saying Fanale is “misinformed” about Burgos’ training.

“[Burgos] is a veteran with 20 years of law enforcement experience,” Mattesich said in the statement. He also said Fanale failed to indicate Burgos’ previous experience as a paid emergency medical technician who also served in the U.S. Coast Guard conducting search and rescue operations — part of which involved firefighting on ships.

As far as Fanale’s view that Burgos should be punished for his actions, Mattesich said the councilman “has no authority in that sense.”

If the order was advised there would be disciplinary action, it would act as a unit to “vigorously defend the bogus claims, accusations and charges” as Burgos did nothing wrong.

“On the contrary,” the statement continued, “he acted as a dedicated professional, as all the officers of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 57 would have done in the same scenario, and will continue to do.”

Fanale said he’s “kind of fed up” with the situation, as he and his critics are “never going to see eye to eye.”

Even if Burgos has firefighter training, he “disregarded personal safety,” which Fanale said is the first rule of firefighting.

He said he also sees the news coverage of the topic as overboard, as it is an “infinitesimal number of people” who speak out at the meetings, and they only did because they are friends of police officers. He says he’s actually getting fan mail from others in the county who share his view on the subject.

“The difference between most people and the small clique is reasoning and logic,” he said.

Residents should not be surprised at Fanale’s beliefs, either, as he said he couldn’t have made is stances any clearer during his campaign — one of which was “working to hold government accountable.”

Instead of debating Fanale’s feelings further through media, Mattesich and the officers of F.O.P. Lodge 57 have invited the councilman to make an appointment with the group to discuss any further issues he might have.

Fanale says he would like to eventually meet with the group, but he said he is not a fool and is “not going to meet with a bunch of union mob thugs without representation.”

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