Cranston police chief on leave following ticket scandal

Col. Steven O'Donnell of the Rhode Island State Police (left) and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung appear at a news conference Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.

Mayor Allan Fung announced Friday he has put the chief of the Cranston Police Department on paid administrative leave following a recent parking ticket scandal in the city.

Fung announced that acting Col. Kevin Barry of the Rhode Island State Police, a 19-year veteran, will replace Marco Palombo. Fung wouldn't comment on how long Barry would be in charge.

"As the chief executive, it's incumbent on myself to ensure that there is trust, trust within the community, amongst all agencies of our city government, and that includes within our police department," Fung said at a press conference at City Hall.

Fung also announced that state police Capt. Ben Barney will investigate whether Cranston officers issued nearly 130 parking tickets in the wards of two city councilmen as political payback for their votes against a proposed police contract in November.

"Now is the time to rise above the fray, put rumors and allegations to rest and complete an independent, non-biased investigation," Fung said. "We will get to the bottom of those allegations."

The mayor said Thursday many officers are under suspicion for misconduct. Fung also said the 128 tickets involved in the alleged scandal would be dismissed and refunds will be issued.

The NBC 10 I-Team reported Wednesday that Councilmen Paul Archetto and Steven Stycos had requested the state police investigation.

The councilmen said police went on a ticket blitz in their wards after they helped vote down a proposed police contract Nov. 14, and only nine tickets were issued in the rest of the city during the same time period.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.