By Ronald O’Clair
I thought that you would be interested to know the outcome of the Worcester Police Department investigation into my complaint – an account was published in the February 13 – 26 issue of InCity Times.
As I knew before filing the complaint, the charges against both officers involved were declared “not sustained” and “unfounded” in the letter the Chief of Police sent me to inform me of the resolution of my “case.”
I had three witnesses, besides myself, and though they were not exactly stellar witnesses, they do hear and see well enough that they saw and heard what they did.
No matter how many indignant citizens complain to the WPD’s “Bureau of Professional Standards,” the result is the same, time after time: “unfounded” or “not sustained.”
That is why I think that the Chief is so reluctant to release the records that the public has a right to be informed about. He does not want to let the people see how one-sided the so-called investigations are being conducted so that the police department can retain what shreds of dignity it has left, which are not many if you ask me. …
It really is not very funny when an injustice happens to you at the hands of those who are sworn under oath of office to “serve and protect” your rights as a citizen of the City of Worcester.
It is not funny when you take the time to protest the injustice, only to have them white-wash the incident to make it appear that the officers acted responsibly and in a professional manner, when any fool can see that they did not, and do not practice these policies on a daily basis here in the inner-city around the P.I.P. shelter.
I don’t know who the Chief thinks he is fooling , and I was heartened to see the [recent] front page headline the “Drug sweep nets officer,” as I am quite sure that this is only the beginning of the end to the “good ol’ boy” network here in Worcester that covers up for corrupt, lying and totally dishonest members of the police department. Theymake the honest hardworking professional members of the department, of which I personally know several, look bad as well.
I am glad to see by the content of the article, that there apparently is a “Frank Serpico” in the Worcester Police Department who realizes it will never change unless someone has the balls to say, “enough is enough.”
The public deserves better than what we have come to expect, which is a far cry from what the Chief himself said in his “Integrity” article.
How on earth can the public have faith in a department so rife with scandal?
We have judges dis-believing sworn testimony from veritable legend officers, we have officers lying on official documents for financial gain, we have policemen and – women lying when they act inappropriately towards an innocent citizen, just like what happened in my case. An honest man with an uncanny ability to write factual stories well, especially when they are based on events the department would most like to have the public believe never happened.
The Chief states in his letter to me. “The investigation indicates that the act or acts complained of did not occur, or they did not involve police department personnel.” If that is the case, who responded to the summons made that initiated my complaint, was it two impostors in police uniforms, driving a Worcester police car?
Everyone knows that the police department imitates an ostrich by sticking its head in the sand, instead of facing up to the facts if they are not pleasant or beneficial to the image of the department. No matter what is true, or false, they wish to reason their way out of any unpleasant situation, even if they have to lie to do it.
If you ask me, there is a lack of professionalism running throughout the department that sickens the good, loyal and caring officers, or as the old saying goes, tars them with the same brush.
We need a man or a woman to head our police department. By his own actions, words and deeds, it is obvious that Chief Gary J. Gemme is no great shakes as the leader, when he can’t get his subordinates to tell the truth more often than not.
Police Chief Gemme respondsThe following letter was sent to me by the chief of police, Gary J. Gemme, in response to my complaint of unfair treatment at the hands of two Worcester police officers:
April 13, 2009
Mr. Ronald O’Clair
Dear Mr. O’Clair,
Your complaint, which was filed with the Bureau of Professional Standards of the Worcester Police Department on February 18, 2009, against employees of this department, has been investigated. The dispositions of your complaints of unnecessary force and discourtesy against Officer Balsevich, as well as your complaint of discourtesy by Officer Molinari, have been classified as not sustained – the investigation failed to discover sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegations made in the complaint.
The disposition of your complaints of conduct unbecoming an officer and insufficient knowledge of laws against Officer Balsevich, as well as the complaint of insufficient knowledge of laws against Officer Molinari, have been classified as unfounded- the investigation indicates that the act or acts complained of did not occur, or they did not involve police department personnel.
If you so desire, please feel free to contact our Bureau of Professional Standards for a further discussion regarding the disposition of your complaint, or if you are in need of any further assistance in this matter. The Bureau of Proffesional Standards can usually be contacted Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (508) 799-8694.
This department is committed to high standards of professionalism, and misconduct by its personnel will not be condoned or tolerated. We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention so that these standards can be maintained. Please be advised that the results of our investigation does not prelude or preempt you from bringing this matter to the attention of another organization. The complaint, the investigation into it, and the findings shall be retained in the records of the Bureau of Professional Standards.
Very truly yours,
GARY J. GEMME
Chief of Police
Ron O’Clair writes:
The following is my written reply to the chief’s letter. I have not received a reply as of yet.
01 MAY 2009
Gary J. Gemme
Chief of Police
City of Worcester
Dear Chief Gemme,
I received your answer to my recent complaint today, and just had a few thoughts to share with you about the whole process, and my reaction to the formal answer, which was postmarked 30 April, but dated 13 April.
I don’t remember lodging any complaint against Officer Molinari alleging discourtesy on his part, of the two officers, I really did not have any complaint about his actions, other than his standing by without taking any action when the other officer, Officer Balsevich clearly overstepped the bounds of professionalism by physically attacking me without any real reason, other than her stated “How dare you roll your eyes at me?”
Your investigation failed to find in my favor, so, in reality, you are basically calling me a liar, right? I feel that way anyway.
I am not surprised or even indignant about the result, because I knew beforehand that the result, without the security camera tape, would be a whitewash. It sadly has become what is expected from the police department here in Worcester.
If only we had truthful, honest police officers, those willing to admit they are not perfect, then perhaps community relations would improve. I for one, still have respect for law enforcement, even with this negative result, and hope with all my heart that your department can someday get a higher percentage of integrity in your employees.
I think that the department should remind the various officers that one important aspect of being sworn to uphold the law, is to be honest about incidents of this nature, without fear of reprisal, which perhaps entices normally truthful members to lie to protect themselves , or other police officers. Honesty, integrity, and veracity should be every officers goal, and those that don’t measure up to that standard should not wear the badge until they understand those concepts.
Clearly something is amiss, when a citizen takes the time and effort to make a complaint such as mine, and having three (3) witnesses, even though they are not exactly stellar witnesses, and having the incident investigated only to find no fault at all on the officer that overstepped the bounds of prefessional conduct, and then lied to cover it up.
Instead of doing the honorable thing, which would have been simply to admit she was wrong, apologize, and go back to the job with a reminder to be more levelheaded in the dealings with the public in the future.
I was there, I KNOW that she lied about the incident.
Officer Balsevich caused me quite a deal of emotional upset, acute anxiety, brought PTSD symptoms on from the incident due to other cases ion my own personal history where I’ve been mistreated, even tortured by law enforcement personnel in the past, (And if you don’t think having handcuffs put on overnight as tight as they could get them, and not releasing them until the morning, when your arms were numb, and purple to the shoulder, if you don’t think that is torturous, then you should try it sometime, I did.) Courtesy of Worcester County House of Correction & Jail, 01 October 1986.
What more can I say? Obviously you believe the line of bullshit being fed to you from your officers, I hardly expected any better, but did think that you would admire and respect honesty, integrity, and veracity in your own troops above all else.
Until you can rely on them to tel the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, you willnever have the respect of the citizenry of the City of Worcester.
It just goes to show me now why an officer of your department who gave sworn testimony in front of a Judge in a trial was not believed, how far throughout the department does the lying spread? We have police lying to get extra pay, lying under oath in front of Judges, and lying on Internal Affairs complaints, can’t you get them to be a little more honest?
Reward honesty, punish dis-honesty. Not a hard concept to grasp is it?
I know that this letter will just find its way into your circular file, (Trash-can) and I will not be getting a reply from such a busy man as yourself, but please think about what I have said, and maybe you can come up with an incentive plan to make these officers start making the right choice, and telling the truth once in a while at least.
Where do they come up with the allegation that I lodged a complaint of insufficient knowledge of laws against either officer?
The investigation indicates that the charges I made did not occur, or they did not involve police department personnel. Well unless two imposters wearing police uniforms answered the disturbance call, who did it involve?
pps, your secretary is probably handling this letter, I doubt you’ll even lay eyes on it. My experience with your department indicates a lot of correspondence sent to you is handled by lesser personnel, and then just rubber stamped with your name before sending it back out. At least you deigned to to take the time to scribble your moniker on the letter of regret to inform me the case was found lacking in merit.
I regret I never sued the department last time I was falsely accused and sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation of my competency to stand trial back in 1999 here at the building I now manage when two very drunk woman tenants were believed over one clean & sober at that time of 18 years without a drink man who defended my life against a drunk woman who in a jealous fit of rage tried to end my life with a butcher knife, only to have your vaunted, gallant, and so perfect officers say I was guilty of assaulting her for knocking the butcher knife out of her hand with a paper bag containing one can of Ajax powdered cleanser.
And let us not forget the dangerous 3X5 inch sponge, resulting in the bruise on her hand that was used to indicate I assaulted her, not that I had defended my life from a drunken lunatic weilding a butcher knife.
Of course your officers arrested the male, myself, and also Mr. Kevin Cosgrove, who happened to come home drunk and belligerent at the wrong time, giving the butcher knife back to the drunk woman in the process.
That case was far more damaging to me than this last one, but I have so many tales to tell about mistreatment at the hands of your officers that I could not begin to list them in the space of this letter which is far too long already.
Obviously I must be truly mentally defective, because I still harbor a hope that you would actually take serious steps to straighten out the Worcester Police Department, hold officers accountable for misdeeds, and gain tremendous community support in the process.
Oh the hopes that I had when you stepped up top the Chiefs position, I am well read, and read the newspaper frequently, keep up wioth events in my hometown of Worcester, and actually do care about our fair City.
I had tough times along the way to where I am now, but still being as I am an eternal optimist, I really believed that there was a chance you meant what yiu said upon taking office. I can see now how delusional I was for thinking things would ever change for the better.
You make great speeches about gaining the respect of the community and the trust of the citizens, but all the speeches and all the talk are no good when complaints go unfounded – not sustained, etc.etc.
Like President Lincoln said ” You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people allof the time” or words to that effect.
Being as I am a concerned citizen, and often community activist, I will still try to work with what we have, all I ask is a little consideration from your officers who should by now know that I am truly one of the good guys, and not one of the ones deserving of the treatment Officer Balsevich dishedout to me, I’d be interested in a truce of sorts, you people stop harrassing me, and I’ll take it easy on you in the press, as well as the works in-progress as yet un-published.
A word from you in certain ears could do wonders for my peace of mind, and go a long way towards making amends for past injustices I have suffered from your depatment.
Anyway, Chief Gemme, there was absolutely no disrespect intended in this letter, and I hope you take none. I know you try at least, but it is very hard to buck the entrenched good ole boy network that has permeated the Worcester City and County for decades.
Mr. Ronald L. O’Clair