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 LPD 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.
House and Car Break Update
There continues to be good news pertaining to house breaks. There was only one house break recently. While we have had several good weeks, when it comes to house breaks, everyone must remain vigilant in the hope that we can continue to deter this type of criminal activity.
The information is not as good pertaining to car breaks. There was a rash of car breaks in town last weekend. The LPD has executed a search warrant in connection with the car breaks and the Worcester Police Department recovered a GPS system stolen from one of the vehicles during an arrest. The investigation is ongoing, but the LPD must again remind residents not to leave valuables in their cars overnight and to lock the doors of their cars.
Other Noteworthy Incidents and Arrests
The number of driving under the influence arrests made by the Leicester Police Department continues to be a concern. After years of traffic enforcement programs that have targeted drunk drivers and countless public service announcements about the dangers of driving drunk, there are still too many individuals who will get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle intoxicated. These individuals pose a significant threat to everyone else who happens to be on the road at the time.
Bad Luck and a Bad Story: A man driving on Route 9 at 2:30 a.m. began his run of bad luck when he passed an LPD cruiser that was equipped with a mobile data terminal (MDT). The LPD officer checked the vehicle’s registration on his MDT and found that the vehicle had been registered several months ago but had never been inspected. The officer stopped the vehicle.
When the officer approached, the operator rolled his window down approximately 1 to 2 inches and the odor of alcohol quickly poured out of the vehicle. Strike 1.
The officer requested the operator’s license and registration and he handed the officer a license that expired two months ago and the registration for a different vehicle. Strike 2.
The officer also observed that the front of the operator’s shirt was covered with cigarette ash and that he had a lone match and a lighter in his lap – very unusual. The officer asked the man if he had been drinking and he stated that he had not been drinking. Lie No. 1 and technically Strike 3.
Despite the fact that his eyes were blood shot and glassy, his speech was slurred, and he had the strong odor of alcohol, the man continued to deny that he had consumed any alcohol. The officer began to administer field sobriety tests and when the officer asked the defendant to recite the alphabet starting at the letter “C” and stopping at the letter “M,” the suspect replied, “I could not do that if I was sober.” Strike 4 – this guy was long past being out.
The officer found an open beer in the center console of the vehicle. Strike 5.
He was arrested and charged with multiple offenses and was held on bail.
Adding to this guy’s continued bad luck was the fact that a federal law enforcement agency lodged a detainer to hold the man so that he could clear up unresolved issues with the federal government. That sounds like a go-directly-to-jail card.
Watch Out for that Curb and the Cruiser Parked Near It: A man operating on Stafford Street at 12:30 a.m. found out the hard way that not only is it bad to hit a curb when you have been drinking, but it is worse when there is a cruiser only a few yards away from the curb you hit. Big Strike 1.
The vehicle was stopped and the LPD officer detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle. The man admitted to only having consumed one drink. Lie No. 1 and Strike 2. The LPD officer administered several field sobriety tests and the man failed all of them. Strike 3.
The man was charged with failure to stay in marked lanes, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and UI (2nd offense). Some people just don’t learn the first time.
The Case of the Stolen Package: It was a sunny weekend afternoon and the golfers at Hillcrest Country Club were plentiful. Several houses away a man, who appeared to be intoxicated, watched a package get delivered and made his move. He went up onto the front porch and stole the package.
As he was leaving with the package, he realized that he had been spotted so he dropped the package and fled through the golf course. K-9s were requested to assist LPD officers in conducting a search of the area, but there were no K-9 units available. Three LPD officers searched the area with negative results.
Now, like any good investigator, you are probably wondering what was in the package to make it worth stealing in broad daylight. It was a photo album.
The album has been returned to its owner and the package it was in is being processed for evidence.
The Case of the Stolen Cologne: An LPD officer responded to a multiple resident dwelling to investigate a breaking and entering. During the course of the investigation, the LPD officer thought something did not smell right. The officer continued investigating and was able to determine that it was another resident of the building who had broken in and stolen the items.
Taken during the incident were five shirts, two pairs of shoes and four bottles of cologne. None of the cologne has been recovered. One suspect has been charged with breaking and entering.
No Shortage of Domestics
The LPD has also been kept very busy with domestic disturbances. These are very dangerous calls as they frequently result in injuries to those involved in the domestic dispute or the police who arrive to quell the disturbance. Here is a snapshot of several domestic disturbances that the LPD handled recently:
I Am Just Walking Home – Officers, on routine patrol at approximately 5:30 p.m. responded to a report of a suspicious man walking on Manville Street near the Recycling Center. Officers who stopped and spoke to with the man determined that he was under the influence of some type of substance. A subsequent investigation determined the man was under the influence of heroin.
Officers also found several bags of heroin in his pocket along with several hypodermic needles. During the investigation, LPD officers learned the man was walking home after having a domestic quarrel with his girlfriend. He stated that he got out of the car they were in and left the area. A check of the area located the man’s girlfriend unconscious in a vehicle near the Waite Street Dam. She had overdosed on heroin and needed to be transported to the hospital via ambulance.
Her injuries were not life threatening. The man was arrested and charged with Possession of a Class A Controlled Substance.
This Guy Crossed the Line: An LPD officer responded to a local business after two customers observed a man strike a child several times.
The LPD officers determined that a 5-year-old was struck in the eye and back by her father. The law allows for a parent to discipline his/her child using reasonable means including physical force – but did this man go too far?
That will be up to the court to decide. The man has been charged with domestic assault and battery and will have to appear in East Brookfield District Court.
Dueling Stories: A family disturbance involving a father and daughter left both combatants claiming that the other had assaulted and battered them. The daughter claimed the father physically assaulted her but did not have any visible injuries. The father claimed he was attacked by the daughter, who physically assaulted him and also threw a glass cup at him.
His face had scratches and other injuries that were actively bleeding. The daughter was arrested and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a glass), and domestic assault and battery. Her case is currently pending before the East Brookfield District Court.
In all domestic abuse cases, the LPD follows the Domestic Violence Response Guidelines developed and implemented by the state.
The Type of Case the Public Rarely Hears About
There are cases that the Leicester Police Department rarely discusses publicly. Those cases usually involve the department’s investigations into the numerous natural deaths that occur in our community where residents are found deceased in their homes. The LPD also rarely comments on suicides or attempted suicides or other cases where the facts of the case would disturb the public conscience or cause an undue burden or grief for those involved. The case that I am about to discuss shows the complexity and jurisdictional issues that arise when the incident is initiated several states away.
The LPD had a recent investigation involving a resident who was “missing and endangered.” Earlier this week, the LPD received a call from a mental health provider who indicated that a local resident, who had just been released from an out-of-state treatment facility, had disappeared shortly after articulating suicidal threats.
The resident had been seeking treatment approximately 900 miles away and now likely traveling through many jurisdictions to an unknown destination. No one knew where the resident was, so no one really wants to take jurisdiction of a case that, in all likelihood, would not even end up in their community.
But the LPD has a theory on this: Who cares about whose jurisdiction the resident might be in and who should be the lead agency. This is a town resident. We just step up and do what needs to be done. Investigators from the LPD have extensive training and experience in how to locate individuals under adverse circumstances.
An LPD investigator dug into the case. The investigator tapped both public and private resources. The investigator began to check for a paper trail and electronic footprints left by the resident. The national law enforcement computer system, which is known as CJIS and NCIC, was also utilized, and eventually the resident was located unharmed but in need of assistance 20 miles away from Leicester, and is now getting the appropriate help.
Once the LPD identified where the resident could be found, the LPD passed that information to the local police department with jurisdiction and it took the resident for the appropriate help. It is also important to remember that this investigation took two days with one LPD investigator working on it almost full time. Now that it is over, the LPD investigator must appear in court in order to comply with the law relating to subpoena authority.
A local resident reported being targeted by the “Grandchild in Trouble” scam. The resident was contacted by a person pretending to be the resident’s grandchild. The phony grandchild told the resident that he was out of the country and needed money to stay out of jail. The resident was on the ball and recognized the call as a potential scam. The resident asked the caller for some information that only the resident’s real grandchild would know and the caller quickly hung up. I would like to congratulate the Leicester resident for doing all the right things to keep from being victimized by this scam. I would also like to thank the resident for reporting the incident to the LPD.
National Drug Take Back
Plan early and start to gather up all those unused or expired prescription drugs that have been taking up room in your medicine cabinet. Bring them to the fourth National Drug Take Back on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Leicester Recycling Center, 200 Manville St., Leicester, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The items can be turned in with no questions asked. This marks the fifth National Take Back that Leicester Police Department and Leicester Recycling Center have partnered together to keep unused drugs from being diverted for illegal use or destroyed improperly, harming the environment.
The ongoing road improvements in Leicester will continue this week. The areas that have been milled down on Paxton and Pleasant Street are scheduled to be paved this week. The Leicester Highway Department’s message board will be in the center of town to provide motorist with an updates on the paving schedule.
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