Saturday, May 18, 2024

After going more than six months without, the Cambridge Police Department will have a permanent spokesman starting May 21.

Dan Riviello, 23, was identified Tuesday by the city manager’s office as the person approved for the role after selection by police officials. A graduate of Hartwick College in New York, Riviello has been working since June 2008 at the Boston-based, a unique and entertaining website that uses factoids and articles to, in words Riviello probably wrote, “answer the question people ask almost daily, ‘What are the odds of that?’”

When his schedule allows, Riviello said, he will keep working as media contact at Book of Odds, which was named “most likely company to be a household name in five years” at the In-NOW-Vation Technology Showcase & Celebration hosted in April by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge.

But he also knows his police role will be 24/7 — that he will be getting the calls at 3 a.m. when there’s been a stabbing or shooting somewhere in the city.

“This will allow me to really dig into public service, which is where my passion lies,” he said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

But he was careful to say he was not a public information officer like Officer Frank Pasquarello, who was in that role for about three decades before being given a position last fall as detective in the Professional Standards Unit. Riviello said he will be a communications specialist, “a brand-new role they’re creating … I’m not really sure what the difference is.”

The communications specialist title is a surprise, as Police Commissioner Robert Haas said after the City Council inaugural Jan. 4 that the department was looking for a permanent public information officer.

The communications specialist position was advertised in February, according to the city’s personnel department, to pay between $36,000 and $45,000 per year. Riviello’s pay inside that range has not been set.

Since Pasquarello’s departure, the role of speaking for police has been split between Jennifer Flagg, Alexa Manocchio and Emily Wright. Flagg was hired for one year at a rate of $130,000 primarily to work with the committee created after the summer arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Manocchio and Wright are students in the co-op program at Northeastern University, whose earnings would be $29,263 were they to stay in the role for a year.

Getting information has been chaotic at times, with the students working only daytime hours and Flagg repeatedly failing to return calls in her role as after-hours contact person.