LEICESTER, Mass. – Being a police officer is like no other job in the world. It can best be described as having a ringside seat to the greatest show on Earth every day. As you read the accounts set forth in the Leicester Police Department update, it is important to remember:
We could not make this stuff up if we tried.
No one lies to the police.
The names of the individuals involved in the cases discussed in this column have not been published to protect their identity.
Where Has the Column Been?
The last weeks of June are always busy. It is the end of the fiscal year for the LPD which means that it is really time to crunch the numbers to make sure the bills are all paid.
Officers, along with civilian personnel, have begun to take more vacation time, all of which means that everyone is working harder and longer to get the job done. Unfortunately, that did not leave enough time for the column. But once again, we’re back!!
House and Car Break Update
There have been a number of housebreaks over the past several weeks. The LPD is again asking residents to immediately report any suspicious activity they observe anywhere in the community. There were also two car breaks during the same time period. Please lock your vehicle at all times and do not leave any valuables in your car when it is unattended.
Understanding the Law
Officer, Arrest That Woman – A recent motorcycle crash elicited a number of comments and questions pertaining to the LPD not arresting an involved woman. The facts of the case are pretty straight forward.
A female operator, with several children in her car, was operating her vehicle west on Rt. 9. She attempted to make a left turn into a parking lot. While making the turn, she pulled directly in front of a motorcycle traveling east on Rt. 9, resulting in the motor vehicle crash.
The motorcyclist sustained a significant and serious leg injury. The woman, who was operating the car, was operating without a driver’s license. It was for that reason that many people believed that the woman should have been arrested.
The problem for the police was that operating without a license is only arrestable if the violation is committed in the officer’s presence.
Simply put, if the officer did not see the woman driving her car, he does not have the legal authority to arrest her [See Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90 section 10 and 21]. So, in the case at hand, when the officer arrived at the scene, the woman was out of her car and thus was not seen operating it.
The officer’s only option under the law at this point was to summons the woman into court. The LPD officer did issue the woman a traffic citation that will result in a summons being issued.
If the officer had arrested the woman, the arrest would likely have resulted in a civil suit against the town and the officer for an unlawful arrest that could cost the town tens of thousands of dollars to settle. My comment on this matter is: the LPD officers know the law and do their job well.
Other Noteworthy Arrests and Incidents
No So Humorous… Woman Arraigned on Child Endangerment Charge – I have always tried to show the humorous side of police work; however, there are those incidents that are just not funny.
One of them recently occurred in Leicester. Several weeks ago the LPD investigated a complaint that a woman had driven from Warren to Leicester with her three children in the car while she was intoxicated.
The officers located the woman in Leicester at a local business exactly where the caller indicated the woman could be found. The officers spoke with the woman and confirmed that she was, in fact, intoxicated.
The investigation also confirmed that she had driven to Leicester in that condition with her three children in the vehicle. She was taken into protective custody based upon her alcohol intoxication, which was confirmed by the officers using a portable breathalyzer (PBT).
The father of the children was contacted to come to the scene and pick up the children. The woman was also charged with Child Endangerment and has already appeared in the East Brookfield District Court.
Officer, I Was In A Fight – A local resident walked into a business near his home and asked the clerk to call the police as he had just been in a fight.
Officers, responding to the call, found the man without any shoes or socks on and his clothes were dirty, disheveled, and wet, not proper attire for being out at 12:10 a.m.!! The man alleged that the fight had occurred because his girlfriend’s son had friends at the house who had been drinking.
As officers listened to the man’s story, it was clear to them that he was intoxicated – STRIKE 1. The officers went to the man’s house and determined, after speaking to numerous other people who were present, that the man started a fight after others at the house hid a second bottle of tequila from the man after he finished off the first bottle and was looking for more – STRIKE 2.
The man attempted to attack one of the men at the party who simply restrained him and removed him from the house and placed him down on the ground to avoid a fight – STRIKE 3. So the true story is that the man attempted to start a fight over a bottle of tequila and lost. Things only got worse as the man was taken into protective custody by the LPD.
I can state without reservation that the only thing worse than waking up with a tequila hangover is waking up with a tequila hangover in the LPD cell!!
Hot Dogs & Donuts Don’t Mix – An LPD officer on routine patrol noticed headlights in the parking lot at Hot Dog Annie’s early in the morning. As the officer approached, he observed a motor vehicle doing doughnuts in the parking lot of the business – Strike 1.
The officer activated his emergency blue lights and attempted to stop the motor vehicle. The doughnut maker immediately, upon seeing the cruiser with its lights flashing, accelerated and fled the scene – Strike 2.
The LPD officer pursued the vehicle down Rt. 56 into Paxton, where the doughnut maker made the decision to cross Rt. 122 and attempted to elude the officer on the side streets – STRIKE 3. That is a dead end.
The LPD officer quickly ended the pursuit by arresting the operator of the motor vehicle. He faces numerous charges and his case is pending in the East Brookfield District Court.
You Will Never Guess What I Found on the Sun Porch This Morning – A local resident got a surprise recently when he went out onto his sun porch at approximately 7 a.m. to read his newspaper. When he entered the sun porch, he found an uninvited guest sleeping on his couch.
The trespasser had his head covered in a blanket. Officers responded to the scene and found the trespasser still sleeping. When the officers woke the man up and asked him what he was doing, he responded, “I’m sleeping at a friend’s house.”
When asked the name of the friend, the man provide the name of a resident who lived nearby – so you guessed it, he was at the wrong house.
I bet you also guessed that alcohol appeared to have been involved in the man’s decision making and navigational process.
He was taken into custody and faces several charges.
Officer, I Am Just Going Home – LPD officers responded to a reported erratic operator on Winslow Ave recently. The call came in at approximately 4:30 p.m. and the caller reported that the vehicle she was behind was “all over the road.”
The caller, who stayed on the line with the dispatch center while officers were responding, updated the dispatcher reporting that the vehicle had stopped in the middle of Winslow Avenue and was not moving.
As LPD officers closed in on the vehicle, it pulled into the Senior Center on Winslow Avenue. Now I know what some of you are asking – is a senior citizen driving erratically? WRONG!!
The officer stopped the vehicle, which proceeded to roll backward, almost striking his cruiser. The middle-aged woman, who was operating the vehicle, informed the officer at the scene that she was just heading home – Clue 1 that something was wrong, as no one lives at the senior center. In fact, the woman was several miles away from home and still heading in the wrong direction.
The LPD officer suspected alcohol impairment and had the woman perform several field sobriety tests which she failed – Clue 2. Couple that with the fact that she dropped a Smirnoff 100 proof vodka nip on the ground as she was getting out of the car, and Clue 3 that she was intoxicated. She was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. She took the breathalyzer resulting in a reading of a .27 percent – WOW!!
The opinions set forth in this article are those of Chief James Hurley and do not represent the opinions of the Town of Leicester or other members of the Leicester Police Department.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the residents of the community for their continued support of the police department and also to thank all the men and women of the LPD for the professional and effective work they do in the community.
Chief Jim Hurley e/s
Leicester Police Department