Tag Archives: Worcester police

Letter to the editor: Theft, disappointments …

Dear Reader,

Most likely, you have also felt the way I have: insecure, and frustrated, here in the city of Worcester.

My name is Belkis Alba; I moved to this city from Florida, with the strict purpose of progressing and contributing to this nation, the same nation that adopted me and I love so very much.

Overachieving, I invested and received all my permits and filled out all the requirements that the law stresses so that I could become a taxi driver.

Once I was signing in to my business, on the 26[th] of May, on Charlton Street, corner of Main [Street], I decided to cross to get some lunch at the restaurant “Los Primos.”

In only four minutes, my belongings from within my car were stolen. More than $1,000 was taken from the expense of my GPS and my iPhone.

I made the report to the police immediately, but it was taken as little to no interest. I returned three times to ask about my stolen belongings. Eventually I stopped insisting after noticing that once I reached the window, I was just another number. This was brought to my attention with the realization of the police having video recording of the robbery, but still had no response when I returned for updates.

So, my friends, I had to reinvest on my working equipment, without any investment on the table, and having to pay the taxi base and the liberty insurance.

Either way, I didn’t let it get to me. I maintained positivity while working at my taxi job. Then I received a call from the work base (Ecualimo) to go pick up a man. This man was of short height, dark skin, and with decayed teeth. The man had asked me to take him to three different locations, and once returning home he said: “ Wait for me here, I’ll be back with 60 dollars”. He entered his building and never returned …

I have also been a witness of the injustice and rudeness of police officers in the area. On many occasions, during my taxi rides, I have come to notice that in different situations a group of officers have followed my car without me committing any faults. They would constantly check the license plate. Then they would realize I had no legal errors in the car I was driving, and would move on to the next vehicle only to repeat the process.

These are my obligated questions:

Why is it that when we try to work, we feel prosecuted, unprotected, insulted, and mocked?

Why is it when we try to make a report, we feel like the police of Worcester treat us like just another number to the list?

Why is it that the responsible citizens that only want to work and contribute get their rights insulted in a vulgar manner? Even if we have proof!

Who receives the rights and guaranties?
Who runs the police? Who do they listen to?

Where is the justice for everyone?!?!

Sincerely,
Belkis Alba

via the Internet

Arresting kids in the Worcester Public Schools

By Gordon Davis
 
At least 19 students have been arrested in the Worcester Public Schools between September 2015 and November 23, 2015. Of that number, at least two children were arrested at the middle school level.
 
The two arrests at the middle school level are especially concerning, due to the young age of the children. I find it hard to believe the children had to be arrested at school. With all of the doctors of education in the Worcester Public Schools, there must be an alternative to arresting young children in the middle or elementary schools. There should be a City of Worcester policy against arrest children at middle or elementary schools.
 
Because of the political hysteria, based to some extent on racism, some people on the Worcester City Council and the Worcester School Committee of Worcester ordered police into our school without a Memorandum of Understanding and appropriate knowledge of the police officers’ duties or restrictions.

This action was not well thought out and now the City of Worcester is out of compliance with the statutes. Being out of compliance might mean that all of the Worcester Public Schools students arrested might have been unlawfully arrested at school with right of causal action.
 
M.G.L. Chapter 71 Section 37 P requires that a School System have in place a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Police Department:
 
“The superintendent and the chief of police shall enter into a written memorandum of understanding to clearly define the role and duties of the school resource officer which shall be placed on file in the office of the school superintendent.”
 
Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme has stated to the local press that he feels that the vast majority of people/parents supports police in our schools.  Unfortunately for us, Chief Gemme is spinning as he offers no evidence. The Massachusetts Human Rights group is collecting signatures of a petition on the issue with more than 100 signatures at last count.
 
Chief Gemme has made another presumption in that he says the cops in the schools are doing good. Without a MOU it is not clear what the they are doing. There is no evidence that the police are improving safety and education.

There are several reports, including an ACLU report, that shows police in the schools are a source of students leaving school and then going into the “school to prison pipeline.” Many of these students are from poor and minority neighborhoods.
 
On the issue of the MOU Chief Gemme asserts that he does not want the police to become school disciplinarians. The facts show that the police officers are already the school disciplinarians. According to Public Safety Liaison Officer for the Worcester Public Schools, Robert Pezella, most of the arrests of students was for disruption and disorderly.

Disruption is not a crime anywhere and should have been handled administratively per Chapter 222. Disorderly is vaguely defined and subjective. The actions of the students should likely have also been adjudicated under Chapter 222.
 
The cat was let out of the bag when Mr. Pezzella stated to the local press that the MOU would likely not be approved until after a safety audit was completed. 

The question Mr. Pezella has unintentionally pointed to is why cops were put into the schools BEFORE the Safety Audit was completed!!!
 
I believe Mr. Pezella is a good man who has been asked by the City to clean up a mess created by Worcester School Committee woman Dianna Briancharia and Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney. Mr. Pezella several years ago helped my wife with an issue at UMass Hospital – he was excellent.
 
This fiasco of putting police into our public schools possibly is being covered up. Mr. Pezzella has not mentioned how parents, students, teachers, principals and advocates will have input into the so called Safety Audit or the MOU. 
 
This statement from Mr. Pezzella is troubling:
 
“There’s a fine line between disciplinary and public safety and, in some cases, student unrest could lead to a possible arrest of a student.”
 
Like his misstatement about disruptions, student unrest is not a crime either.

For teenagers it is normalcy.

The question arises about a possible bias on the part of Mr. Pezella’s thinking about students. The use of the phrase “fine line” is curious on the part of Mr. Pezella, as the statute makes it clear that cops are not authorized to enforce school policy, only law enforcement and security. Everything else should be administratively adjudicated.
 
”School resource officer”, a duly sworn municipal police officer with all necessary training, up-to-date certificates or a special officer appointed by the chief of police charged with providing law enforcement and security services to elementary and secondary public schools.
 
The losers in all of this are the children in the Worcester Public Schools who are compelled to go into a learning environment in which they can be arrested on the most frivolous or subjective of reasons without recourse to their rights found in Chapter 222. The environment is filled with police officers who do not know for certain what they can or cannot do because there is no MOU. An environment created by the racist rants of some Worcester city officials. 

Join us for a Rally April 3 (tomorrow!), 6:30 p.m. at City Hall to say NO to Profiling in Worcester!

Please join us for a Rally tomorrow (April 3) at 6:30 pm at City Hall to Say no to Profiling in Worcester and Yes to Administration Accountability. This Rally was sparked by the call for Justice for Trayvon Martin and the collective injustice we all feel about this case but also, unfortunately, the multiple stories we know of in our own communities that could have or have resulted in similar fates.

The information:

Tuesday, April 3rd at 6:30 pm

In front of Worecster City Hall

A City Council Pre Rally to Demand Accountability from the City Administration and Worcester Police Department when issues are brought up by the Worcester Community and residents.

1. We demand a response from the Administration and the police department as to why there was not any follow up on multiple meeting requests of concerned residents and the former Mayor [Joe O’Brien], who were worried about racial profiling in the Hammond Heights Community.

2. An explanation as to why a 14-year-old boy was arrested outside of his home because a neighbor accused him of looking suspicious.

3. Demand a Response to an item City Councilor Joe O’Brien filed in August 2011, when he was Mayor, requesting the City Manager provide information on the legality of Colleges and Universities patrolling residential communities in the city and the questioning of non-students on residential streets.

Mayor Petty has agreed to take up Councilor Joe O’Brien’s tabled item from last August at this City Council Meeting.

We need to be there to show that we demand a response!

Pipped out!

By Ron O’Clair

I have resided right next door to the P.I.P. Shelter for the last 14 years, since 03 July 1996 to be exact. I have seen most everything, and I have also heard most everything, often in the wee hours of the morning. The people that hang around the shelter, many of them clients, or former clients in some cases, cause all kinds of trouble for the average resident of the neighborhood.

We are more than tired of the bullshit that goes on day and night. Mostly due to the fact that the shelter is part of the neighborhood, and acts like a magnet that draws them to it like flies to honey. They stand out there selling drugs, sun, rain, snow, or sleet, do not seem to matter, it is business as usual for them.

There are a lot of rip off artists amongst them, and the customers that are ripped off sometimes come back looking to get revenge on the ones that ripped them off, so there have been cases of mistaken identity where an innocent bystander takes the punishment dished out as a result. Continue reading Pipped out!

The trouble with Arizona

By Ronal Madnick, Director
Worcester County Chapter
ACLU of Massachusetts

A law, SB1070, passed in Arizona makes the rampant racial profiling of Latinos that is already going on in Arizona much worse. If this law were implemented, citizens would effectively have to carry ‘their papers’ at all times to avoid arrest. It is a low point in modern America when a state law requires police to demand documents from people on the street.

This unconstitutional law sends a strong message to all immigrants to have no contact with any law enforcement officer. The inevitable result is not only to make immigrants more vulnerable to crime and exploitation, but also to make the entire community less safe, by aggressively discouraging witnesses and victims from reporting crimes. It violates the supremacy clause by interfering with federal immigration power and authority. The law also unlawfully invites racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color. Continue reading The trouble with Arizona

Dump the free-loaders!

By Rosalie Tirella

Yes! Yes! The synapses in my head are firing like mad! How they crackled this afternoon when, coming out of a store in Holden (near the Jefferson line for Gawd’s sake!), I saw a WORCESTER DPW truck sitting in a parking lot with four Worcester public works employees – slurping on milkshakes! What the heck were our DPW workers doing in Jefferson practically – on city time?  Couldn’t they slurp on their McShakes in Worcester, the city that employees them? The DPW pickup truck had a double cab – a front and back seat – so no one was cramped. Thank goodness! Because it was such a fine summer day! A sunny, perfect day to take a jaunt through the country! ON WORCESTER TAXPAYERS’ DIME!!!

Pathetic.

This is why Worcesterites have so little respect for the municipal workers we pay $50,000, $80,000, even $100,000 and $150,000 (our cops’ salaries). Only to get … this – sitting in the middle of Holden in a Worcester DPW truck. Using gas that Worcesterites paid for, showing no incentive, showing no respect, sneaking around. So, how long is their lunch break? Why couldn’t these four guys take their own vehicles? Was that it for today, as far as their work goes? Were they calling it a day?  Giving themselves the afternoon off – far, far away from the peepers that sit in the head of DPW and Parks Commisioner Robert Moylan? Jeepers, creepers! Or were the DPW guys going to bring Moylan back some of that good country cookin’?

We’ll never know. 

Even more outrageous: the sight of Worcester Police Officers Don Cummings and Tom Daly whining during this week’s Worcester City Council meeting about losing their Quinn Bill benefits (read lots and lots of dough). Wah! Wah! We can’t make over  $100-grand now! Wah, wah! We can’t take our nice vacations! Wah! Wah! We won’t be able to put in that Jacuzi! Wah! Wah! We will lose our upper-middle class way of life. Continue reading Dump the free-loaders!

A civilian review board for WPD

By Ronal C. Madnick

The Public Safety Committee of the Worcester City Council will take up, at a date to be announced, a proposal by the Worcester County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts to establish a civilian review board (CRB) to investigate complaints against Worcester police officers. If not approved there are areas in the proposal which might be adopted by the Worcester Human Rights Commission or by the Worcester Police Department. Continue reading A civilian review board for WPD

Hiring episodes shows civil service works for Worcester

By Steven R. Maher

Civil service laws govern the Worcester police and fire departments when it comes to the hiring and firing of personnel. Recently the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission ruled in Worcester’s favor in two cases that show how well the system works.

Civil service requires police and firefighter applicants to take a competitive written exam. The state then supplies the city a list of aspirants ranked by score results, with favorable preferences for veterans. The city conducts background checks of solicitants before deciding whether to hire the high scoring achievers on the list. Factors other than test results can be taken into consideration.

If a qualified candidate believes he has been passed over in favor of a less eligible hireling, the aggrieved party can appeal the hiring decision to the Civil Service Commission. If the commission believes unfair practices were used, it can take action ensuring the more qualified supplicant eventually gets a job. The system creates a level playing field for all, ranking job seekers using a standardized test. For that reason it is detested by politicians, because it inhibits venal practices like nepotism and patronage.

Continue reading Hiring episodes shows civil service works for Worcester