Aug 30 2013

Andover “Officer of the Year” accused of OUI, hit-and-run

Dr. Q

The Eagle-Tribune reports:

A patrolman who was named a Police Officer of the Year in January is facing a hearing that will determine whether he should be charged in an alleged hit-and-run, drunken driving accident in March.

Evan Robitaille, 32, is scheduled to appear at a clerk magistrates’s hearing next week to answer a summons issued to him by State Police following the March 11 accident.

The “criminal summons” was for operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to use care in starting, stopping, turning or backing up a motor vehicle, according to the State Police daily log for March 11.

Andover Police Commander Charles Heseltine said Robitaille has been on paid administrative leave since the date of the incident. “He’ll stay on paid administrative leave until (the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office) gives us the outcome of the case.”

Robitaille was treated “just like any officer,” Heseltine said.

When the department learns a police investigation involves one of its officers, whether in Andover or another jurisdiction, the office is automatically placed on paid leave, according to Heseltine.

Robitaille’s clerk magistrate hearing is scheduled for next Friday at Lowell District Court, Guyotte said.

At the hearing, a court magistrate will review the case and determine if there is enough evidence to issue a criminal complaint.

Guyotte said she couldn’t give additional details about the case because the investigation is continuing.

Does your job automatically give you a paid vacation at taxpayer expense when you’re accused of committing a crime?


Jul 9 2013

Lowell officer arrested and charged with OUI

Dr. Q

A Lowell police officer was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The officer has been placed on paid leave (Source: The Lowell Sun).

Eric Wayne, 39, who is a Lowell resident, was arrested by Lowell police on July 4 near the intersection of Lawrence and Rogers Street.

The details of his arrest are unclear, but this much is known: There was no accident or personal injury. Wayne was alone in the vehicle.

According to court documents, police Lt. Daniel Larocque, the shift supervisor that day, said that at around noon on July 4, he became involved in an “administrative matter” concerning Wayne. Larocque wrote that after speaking to another officer about the situation, he parked his cruiser at the end of Hanks Street by Rogers Street waiting for Wayne’s white 2013 Land Rover to pass by.

While parked at that location, Larocque wrote in his report that he spotted Wayne’s vehicle turn right on Rogers Street from the other side of Hanks Street. Wayne stopped at a red light, and Larocque pulled up behind him, got out and approached Wayne, telling him to pull into the parking lot of a local liquor store.

Due to the “sensitive nature” of the incident, Larocque asked Wayne to stand near his police cruiser so he could speak to him. During the interaction, Larocque wrote that he could smell alcohol on Wayne’s breath, and noticed his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. Wayne appeared unsteady on his feet, Larocque said.

“As I continued to speak with him, his talk became irrational at times,” Larocque wrote, describing Wayne’s behavior.

Wayne would be talking about the “administrative matter” he and Larocque were discussing, Larocque wrote, and then Wayne would say he was leaving the department and he was tired of the department watching him.

Larocque had requested that a department Employee Assistance Program officer respond to the scene to speak to Wayne, according to court documents.

Larocque asked Wayne to perform a field sobriety test. Initially, Wayne refused, then he agreed. He failed the tests, Larocque wrote.

Larocque arrested him.

Back at the station, Wayne refused a Breathalyzer test. Under state law, refusing the Breathalyzer test means an automatic 180-day loss of license.


Jun 5 2013

Lowell police officer falls asleep at the wheel, causes extensive damage to school

Dr. Q

A Lowell police officer caused extensive damage to a specialized classroom for students with autism after he fell asleep while driving and crashed into a school. The officer was been placed on desk duty pending a medical review (Source: The Lowell Sun).

More details here:

The impact of the crash broke a water pipe feeding the school’s HVAC system, resulting in substantial water damage to the classroom, said Jay Lang, an assistant superintendent in the School Department.

“The classroom was deluged with water,” Lang said, noting that among items destroyed were computers that assist students in communicating. “Of all the classrooms in the school, this is the one we can least afford to lose.”

The accident happened at about 3:30 a.m. on May 28. Police Capt. Kelly Richardson said an email that for the safety of the public and the officer, the officer has been placed on desk duty pending a medical review. The police department declined to identify the officer. The Sun, however, learned from numerous sources the officer is Daniel Hyde, a department veteran who makes nearly $70,000 a year.

Hyde was not injured and the cruiser’s airbag did not deploy. No one was in the school at the time of the accident.

Besides what Lang described as “significant structural to the school,” the cruiser — one of the department’s brand new Chevrolets — also sustained “significant” damage, according to a police report. One source said it was
damaged beyond repair.

Lang said it will be a couple weeks before he’s able to determine repair and replacement costs. “We’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars,” Land said. “Not just a couple hundred bucks.”


May 24 2013

Massachusetts License Plate Privacy Act Hopes to Keep Police Abuses At Bay

Dr. Q

By Russell Matson

Note: This article is a guest submission. If you’d like to submit a piece of writing to be featured on the site, please use the Contact page or send a message via Facebook or Twitter.

License plate readerHow much power should police have to look up your driving habits and the places you frequent? That’s the question at issue as the state considers limitations on new technology already being widely deployed by police.

The dangers of law enforcement omnipotence and the privacy concerns of a surveillance state have been well documented in light of an increasing and disturbing trend nationwide: license plate readers. Boston-area police have joined the trend, incorporating a number of license plate readers throughout the area enabling police to track motorists, with or without any suspicion of criminal activity.

The tracking powers are almost universal. The way it works is, anywhere your vehicle goes, if it happens to cross one of these readers, it will be photographed and stored into an information system that includes the plate, the location and the time. These readers can be anywhere: the supermarket, your church, your kid’s tennis classes, or community meetings.

The purported primary purpose of these devices is to quickly identify stolen vehicles, or drivers wanted by law enforcement for offenses such as driving on a suspended license, or open warrants for failure to appear in court. Still, all the data, the “misses” as well as the “hits” are constantly being logged.

Once in the system, officials, equipped only with a license plate number, can enter that number into a database that retroactively creates a map of where you’ve been, when you’ve been there, and who else has been there with you.

What’s worse, the emergence of plate reading technology means that law enforcement agencies won’t be the only ones with access to your whereabouts. Private corporations, who have been notorious for using private information on consumers to narrowly tailor their marketing, will line up in droves to get their hands on reader technology. Without legislation in place to prevent this information from getting into the wrong hands, the privacy of Massachusetts citizens and Americans nationwide will continue to dwindle.

Fortunately, such legislation may be on the horizon. The Mass legislature is hearing The License Plate Privacy Act. The bill would set strict parameters around which law enforcement may use any information obtained from license plate readers. Essentially, it would require that any information obtained for reasons other than to track violations should be discarded. A court order would be required for officials to hold onto any such license plate information for more than a few day period.

The bill has already garnered some prominent supporters. The ACLU of Massachusetts has endorsed the bill, with Technology for Liberty Project director Kade Crockford calling the measures “checks and balances” against abusive use of technology. Civil libertarians across the state have praised the bill as not only limiting potentially insidious use, but also of setting precisely the type of guidelines that can make plate readers actually useful to law enforcement, by promoting public safety and lawful upkeep of vehicles.

The implications of the bill would reach even further. As it stands, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has indicated that a statewide database is the end destination of data obtained from license plate readers. Other states have similar databases, and that the aggregated data funnels through to central information on a national level. That means your movements, in and out of the state, are part of an integrated information tracking system that passes in front of many sets of eyes. Some ALPR devices are even provided to local police departments via grants from the Department of Homeland Security on the condition that they share all their data with national law enforcement.

The bill, if passed, looks to essentially dump any information that is not immediately used to spot infractions. Does that mean snapshots of license plates obtained through routine tracking wouldn’t make their way into nationwide information aggregates? That’s a question for another day. For now, advocates of privacy can agree on one thing: passing the License Plate Privacy Act would be a definite step forward.

Russell Matson is a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts. His website is http://www.madrunkdrivingdefense.com


Nov 26 2011

State trooper skips arraignment after leading police on chase

Dr. Q

State Police Captain Thomas McCarthy

Boston.com reports that on November 18th, State Police Captain Thomas McCarthy was arrested after leading Saugus police officers on a motor vehicle chase.

Saugus police were responding to an alarm an reports of an argument at a woman’s home. When they arrived, they found the woman standing in her garage and Captain McCarthy driving away in an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser.

Shortly after, Saugus police officer James M. Scott found McCarthy swerving in and out of a lane on Central Street and attempted to pull him over. McCarthy kept driving for about a block, but finally stopped. At this point, McCarthy turned on his flashers to signal that he was a police officer.

Officer Scott approached McCarthy’s vehicle. He wrote in his report that he could smell alcohol on McCarthy’s breath. He told McCarthy to shut off his vehicle and McCarthy allegedly responded by saying something like “Are you kidding me?”

Scott asked McCarthy to shut off his vehicle again and McCarthy allegedly said “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m outta here.” At this point, he drove off.

McCarthy led Saugus police on a high speed chase, allegedly blowing through a stop sign, before finally stopping in the parking lot of Sears Automotive.

Scott and a second officer who has arrived as backup attempted to place McCarthy under arrest, but he resisted and they had to wrestle him to the ground to get him in handcuffs. After they arrested him, they searched his vehicle and found two unopened beer bottles, one empty beer bottle, and McCarthy’s firearm.

McCarthy was charged with failure to stop for a police officer and failure to stay in marked lanes by the Saugus police. He was also suspended indefinitely without pay from his job by the state police.

McCarthy was supposed to be arraigned at the Lynn District Court, but skipped out on the court hearing. His lawyer, Daniel W. O’Malley, told the court that McCarthy could not make it because he was at a “facility in Florida” which is likely a rehab facility of some sort. He filed a motion to exclude MJcCarthy from the arraignment, but a judge denied this motion. The judge did, however, agree to a motion to move the arraignment to December 2.

This story is pretty disturbing for a number of reasons. Obviously McCarthy’s behavior is extremely troubling in itself. However, the way the Saugus police dealt with him is also troubling. Although one officer indicated that he smelled alcohol on McCarthy’s breath and police found an empty bottle of beer in his car, they did not charge McCarthy with OUI. The police report for McCarthy’s arrest makes no mention of police conducting a field sobriety test, using a breathalyzer, or using any of the other methods police generally use to determine if a driver is drunk. This suggests that even though McCarthy led the police on a chase and resisted arrest, they were still willing to give him preferential treatment.

The Boston Herald reports that State Police filed a criminal complaint in the Lynn District Court seeking a probable cause hearing to charge McCarthy with OUI. They are also investigating whether or not Officer James Scott was pressured by his department to give McCarthy special treatment.

According to the Herald, McCarthy made $213,474 last year.

I’ll post an update on this story as soon as more information becomes available. In the meantime, you can check out this news video about the case from WFXT/Fox News 25:


Nov 18 2011

Truro police chief steps down

Dr. Q

Truro Police Chief John Lundborn, who was arrested on drunk driving charges by his own department last month, has resigned, according to the Cape Cod Times. The Truro board of selectmen voted 4-0 Wednesday night to accept Lundborn’s resignation.

The selectment also voted 4-0 to appoint Lt. Kyle Takakjian as the police chief. Takakjian had already been serving as acting chief since Lundborn has been on administrative leave during the investigation into his conduct.

Lundborn had been with the department since 1989, but had only been appointed chief in April of this year. He is currently facing OUI and negligent operation of a motor vehicle charges after he crashed a police cruiser on the night of October 14. According to a recent Associated Press report, the police cruiser Lundborn destroyed was purchased the day of the crash. It was worth more than $31,000.

Lundborn is currently scheduled for an arraignment on December 6 at the Plymouth District Court.

I’ll post an update about this case as soon as more information becomes available.

WFXT/Fox News 25 has a short news video about this case which can view here: