By Ronald O’Clair
As some of you may know, I have written several items in regards to my experience with the infamous Worcester Police Department, I write them as I see them, and based upon eye-witnessed episodes in my own life. It has garnered me a reputation as a “Cop basher” in some circles, as a hero of the people in other circles, and, I hope, as a serious writer of some measure of talent.
I witnessed an incident involving a paid detail officer on the night of Halloween, that was not reported in the papers the next day, nor has a word of it made it into the press as I type this that I know of anyway. I call them like I see them, and I was there on the spot when the following took place, I was so close, I heard a shot ricochet of the fuel pump island I was at, watching the scene unfold before my very eyes. The same eyes, and ears that I relied upon to relate previous encounters I have had with the officers, men and women, of our police force.
When worthy of praise, I am not reluctant to heap it on their shoulders, and when worthy of scorn, well, if you’ve read my previous articles published in this paper, I need not say more about it here. Since I attended the City Manager and the Police Chiefs neighborhood activist, of which I am one, and the neighborhood crime watch groups, of which I also belong, meeting about the new media policy changes the Chief was implementing and the reasons that this step was considered necessary, and in the best interest of the City of Worcester as a whole, I have come to a better understanding of my own role as a concerned, caring citizen.
Due to events in my own past, I found it difficult to sit at that meeting with an open mind, but as a surprise to myself, I came away from it with newfound hope that things could actually be taking a turn for the better as regards community relations. The City Manager, and the Chief, both came through as sincere in their statements, as far as I could see. The meeting tended to be less audience participation, and more show and tell about statistical evidence of crime trends in our city as opposed to other cities of like size, and Worcester came out far above other cities our size, which was comforting to hear.
Whether this was due to factors cited in the presentation seemed open for debate, but there was little time to ask questions afterward, my question was ill answered, but the Chief really seemed not to fully understand it, and I did not have the opportunity to elaborate sufficiently to get a better answer, which I feel was a shame, but I do think the whole program was a very good start in better communication between the police department, and the neighborhood associations. It at least enabled me to come to an understanding that once a bell is rung, there is no un-ringing it, and we all need to focus more on the positive aspects of police and community relations, if Worcester is going to be a better place for all to reside, work, and raise children in.
Which brings me to the latest incident I feel honor-bound to report to the public via this medium, the InCity Times. While I was stopped at the Gulf Station at Park Avenue & Pleasant Street, I heard shots ring out from across the road, in the area of the CVS parking lot, which was teeming with after-hours patrons of Letrim’s Pub, who were lined up willy-nilly trying to order food at “El Deliciosso” who is apparently renting the old “Ray’s Hot Dog Stand”. When the shots rang out, the detail officer, A sergeant I later found out, ran towards the sound of the shots which he as well as I correctly identified as small arms fire. Most people there thought that they were firecrackers. The next thing I know, he runs back towards the front of the pub, where more shots rang out in return to the first.
Being as I am, a former military man, I know valor when I see it, and heroism under fire. This officer displayed both those traits with unselfish concern for his own well being, while successfully discharging his sworn duties to “protect and serve” the public citizens of Worcester. I have not personally witnessed a more heroic performance from a public servant in quite some time, and I feel that this Sergeant deserves recognition for his actions while essentially under fire himself. I only wish that I had a camcorder to record that scene, it spoke volumes in itself, and could have made an excellent training film for other officers to emulate his actions. He managed to apprehend two criminal suspects without any bystanders getting hurt in the process, which by itself was amazing due to the number of drunken people who were strolling about supposedly having a “good time” celebrating Halloween. If we the people had more reportage of incidents like the one I witnessed, and less negative items published, I feel that we all would feel better about the City of Worcester, and be more thankful that we live, work, and play here, instead of those other cities mentioned at the “Crime watch meeting” I attended on the 22nd of October at police headquarters.