RI fire captain back on the job after altercation with tow truck employee
Fire Capt. Craig Committo was charged by police with disorderly conduct, which was dismissed in District Court last week
Daily News Staff
Newport Daily News, R.I.
TIVERTON, R.I. — Fire Capt. Craig Committo is back on the job following a week of paid administrative leave and a disciplinary week of unpaid leave for being aggressive at an accident scene June 1 by grabbing a tow truck company worker by the neck after the two exchanged words.
Committo was charged by police with disorderly conduct, which was dismissed in District Court last week. The complainant did not wish to press charges, but he will get a written apology from Committo.
That is one of the conditions set down by Town Administrator Jan Reitsma who had a number of "disciplinary and corrective measures" imposed on Committo including "mandatory, written apologies, mandatory counseling, suspension without pay for one week, and a warning in the personnel file that any future occurrence of verbal or physical, abusive conduct will be grounds for termination from employment."
Base pay for captains in the Fire Department is $1,272 a week, not including longevity. Committo was placed on paid administrative leave while the town conducted an investigation, but will lose a week's pay for his actions.
Reitsma said the type of conduct displayed by Committo at the accident scene that Saturday afternoon will not be tolerated and it will be made clear to all employees of the town.
"This matter is not over and done with," Reitsma said. "The Town cannot and will not tolerate conduct of this nature, whether between employees or towards members of the public. We have an ongoing obligation to make sure this case becomes a lesson learned that helps prevent future incidents."
Committo had an alleged physical altercation with an 18-year-old tow truck company worker at the scene of a motorcycle accident on June 1. He was making comments to the worker at the scene of the accident at Narragansett and Summit avenues about how he should back the tow truck up closer to the damaged motorcycle, when the worker made an insulting comment to the captain, according to the police report.An irritated Committo "proceeded to grab [him] by the throat," police said, and squeezed for a few seconds.
Reitsma said he plans to discuss with department heads the need for "all of us to be vigilant about it," and he will look into possibly having training for employees "from time to time."
"Captain Committo has acknowledged that his conduct was unacceptable, taken responsibility for it, apologized and accepted the discipline. Our new fire chief will be monitoring his progress," Reitsma said of Fire Chief Joseph Mollo III who became chief of the department on June 10.
Committo, who is also president of the local firefighters union, returned to work on Wednesday, Reitsma said.
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