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Law's words frame new play

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Spotlight Report

Overtime to protect cardinal: $10,808

Police assign three for Sunday escort

By Michael S. Rosenwald, Globe Staff, 8/23/2002

Boston taxpayers have paid nearly $11,000 in overtime this year to provide special police protection to Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the embattled leader of the Boston Archdiocese, according to Boston police records provided to the Globe yesterday.

Beginning Jan. 6, when the Globe's Spotlight Team first reported on the clergy sexual abuse scandal roiling the Roman Catholic Church, the Boston Police Department has paid $10,808 to three plainclothes officers attached to Commissioner Paul F. Evans's office.

The officers have driven Law to and from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, where he offers Sunday Mass, and have accompanied him to depositions involving clergy sexual abuse lawsuits and to other public events. They receive overtime pay for the Sunday assignments.

Law's security is categorized as special dignitary protection, which is typically provided to visiting VIPs, including the US president, foreign leaders, important religious figures, and prominent businessmen, police officials said.

Mariellen Burns, a spokeswoman for the Boston police, said Law is not the only individual living in Boston who receives special protection, but she refused to say how many there are or reveal their names.

The department began protecting Law last year, before the scandal erupted, because threats deemed to be credible had been made against the cardinal, Burns said. The protection became more frequent when the scandal began rocking the church.

Threats have continued to be made against Law, Burns said, but she refused to provide details.

''These are events or situations when the department feels it is necessary for him to have protection,'' she said. ''If something were to happen to the cardinal, and we had such information, we would be remiss not to take steps that we feel appropriate for his safety. This is the decision that the department has made.''

No overtime is paid officers who escort Law during the regular work week, Burns said.

On March 9, a Saturday, officers received $1,261 in overtime to protect Law during a convention of lay archdiocesan leaders at the World Trade Center that focused on the scandal. ''We had quite a bit of intelligence about that event'' that prompted concern, she said.

Boston Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna M. Morrissey referred all questions about Law's security and its cost to Boston police. Burns said the department would not ask Law or the archdiocese to pay for the security because the city considers it the department's responsibility.

The cost records, provided to the Globe under the Freedom of Information Act, do not specifically indicate that all Sunday assignments were to protect Law, but Burns said she believes they were.

Law has been approached several times at the cathedral by people who wanted to argue with him or disparage him. The security officers have been spotted following certain parishioners as they approach him for Holy Communion.

Two officers arrested a man in March who walked up to the pulpit as Law was to begin his homily and said, ''I'm standing before you, Cardinal, and I'm taking my power back that your church stole from me.'' The man said he had been abused by a priest.

The plainclothes officers receiving overtime typically drive Law to and from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sundays in department vehicles with tinted windows.

At least a dozen other officers from the department's special operations unit and detectives from the precinct nearest the cathedral also are deployed to watch the 50 to 60 protesters who usually demonstrate outside Holy Cross when Law is there.

Those officers are working normal shifts and are assigned to the cathedral by their superiors, Burns said.

The union representing the department's superior officers filed a grievance recently regarding the overtime assignments to the commissioner's staff, arguing that district officers are entitled to the lucrative assignment.

The department rejected the grievance.

The union dropped the matter when it learned that Law was being given special dignitary protection, according to Tom Nolan, vice president of the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation.

The union also did not want to argue that ''this guy shouldn't be getting protection,'' Nolan said. ''At some point, on many levels, there are people who would look to do him harm. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that someone could hurt this man.''

Brendan Flynn, a detective, and plainclothes patrolmen Quion Riley and Richard Whalen have usually been assigned to protect Law. A typical overtime shift on Sundays nets the men between $201.18 and $282.78 each. But for 10 hours of work at the May convention, Flynn made $471.30, Riley $335.30, and Whalen $354.30.

Michael Rosenwald can be reached at mrosenwald@globe.com

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 8/23/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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