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Saturday, November 20, 2004

On-duty correction officer arrested

Fitchburg chief backs patrolwoman's action
By Christina E. Sanchez Telegram & Gazette Staff
FITCHBURG- An on-duty Worcester County Sheriff's Department correction officer was arrested Thursday after he allegedly failed to stop his sport utility vehicle for a Fitchburg police officer, sparking a debate over whether the arresting officer's actions were warranted.

Joseph F. Coggans, 37, was charged with failing to stop for police, disorderly conduct, refusing to identify himself, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, assault with a dangerous weapon (gun) and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Fitchburg District Court next week on a yet-to-be-decided day, according to a court official.

Fitchburg Police Chief Edward F. Cronin is standing behind his officers' actions that led to the arrest.

Meanwhile, the sheriff's office will investigate to determine if the Fitchburg officers' traffic stop was warranted and if the stop impeded the correction officer from doing his job of transporting a prisoner, according to Edward F. O'Brien, lawyer for the sheriff's department.

Mr. O'Brien said officials from Fitchburg District Court called the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction on Thursday for an officer to come get a prisoner, who was acting unruly in the courthouse jail.

"They made a special trip at the request of a judge because a prisoner was creating a disturbance in the jail cell. The Fitchburg Police Department should be asked what was the purpose in stopping the police van that was carrying a prisoner," Mr. O'Brien said.

"It would appear right now that the Fitchburg police officer interfered with him and his official duties. Stopping a van with a prisoner in it is one of the most dangerous things to do," he said.

Officer Joanne M. Bairos, who works for the department's traffic division, saw a Ford Explorer SUV from the sheriff's department with flashing lights allegedly driving erratically across the Water Street Bridge about 4 p.m. Thursday. Officer Bairos was driving in the opposite direction in an unmarked car that is used for traffic enforcement, according to Chief Cronin.

Officer Bairos called the Fitchburg police dispatcher to find out what was happening because she was not aware of an emergency in the city. She was concerned with the way the SUV was driving, Chief Cronin said.

The dispatcher informed her that the SUV was going to the courthouse to pick up a prisoner. Officer Paul M. McNamara went to the courthouse and approached Mr. Coggans and asked him to wait for Officer Bairos to arrive.

"Officer Bairos went to the scene, and they got into a conversation. Mr. Coggans was not cooperative," Chief Cronin said, declining to give details of the conversation.

He said Mr. Coggans went into the courthouse. Officers McNamara and Bairos informed the station supervisor, Sgt. Jeffrey J. Howe, of the events that occurred. Sgt. Howe asked that any officer who saw the SUV leaving the city notify him and he would stop the vehicle.

Sgt. Howe located the SUV on Boulder Drive and activated the flashing lights on his cruiser to stop the vehicle. There was a county prisoner transport van driving behind the SUV that immediately pulled over. The SUV stopped near Walton and Pine streets about one mile from Boulder Drive, Chief Cronin said.

"Sgt. Howe tried to identify him. Mr. Coggans refused to cooperate, and several other officers came to the scene. Officers at the scene have every reason to expect that when a person is stopped by a police officer that, regardless of who they are, they surrender their license," Chief Cronin said.

Another correction officer also was in the vehicle and cooperated with the officers, he said. Mr. Coggans was arrested about 5 p.m. and later released on personal recognizance.

This is the second arrest in a month of an employee of the Worcester County Sheriff's Department. A guard at the House of Correction in West Boylston was arrested earlier this month by Gardner and state police and charged with kidnapping and raping a woman.

Chief Cronin said he supports the actions of his officers 100 percent. "From reading the report, the facts speak for themselves. Officer Bairos is one of the most dedicated officers in the city. She takes traffic enforcement very seriously," he said.

"I think this could have been put to rest by the correction officer by explaining his business and identifying himself. Our investigation indicates that there was no emergency. If someone was cutting through traffic and driving in the manner as Officer Bairos indicated in her report, there was no reason for that," Chief Cronin said.

Mr. O'Brien said the sheriff's office will decide when the investigation is complete what actions, if any, would be taken against Mr. Coggans. "They're (the correction officers) saying that the stop was unwarranted. And if the information I have is correct, which I believe it is, when the vehicle was stopped the (Fitchburg) officers pulled out their revolvers and pointed them at the corrections officer. As far as reprimanding, we will wait until the investigation is complete and we get all the facts and statements as far as people involved," Mr. O'Brien said.

Chief Cronin said this is the first incident in which a Fitchburg police officer has arrested a correction officer from the sheriff's department, which, he added, has had a good relationship with the city of Fitchburg.

"The union supported Sheriff (John M.) Flynn in the sheriff's race. Many of our officers worked at the House of Correction before they came here. Even Flynn used to be a Fitchburg police officer," Chief Cronin said, referring to the Fitchburg native.

And the thin blue line gets alittle thinner!!!
 

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Re: Fitchburg PD vs WC Sheriff

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Well, if the guy was being a knucklehead, then F him. But either way that must have been a rubber-neckers wet dream to see that on the side of the road.
 
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Re: Fitchburg PD vs WC Sheriff

THIS IS THE FINAL STRAW. THE SO CALLED C.O. IS A "DEPUTY SHERIFF" WAS DOING HIS JOB IN HIS COUNTY. THIS DECORATED OFFICER MADE A VERY BAD CALL. THERE IS NOTHING THE DEPUTY DID THAT WAS WRONG. AS FAR AS IDENTIFYING HIMSELF , HE WAS IN FULL UNIFORM IN A MARKED SHERIFF"S OFFICE K-9 VEHICLE TRAVELING TO A COURTHOUSE IN FITCHBURG TO PICK UP AN UNRULY PRISONER THAT THE FITCHBURG COURT CALLED WCSO TO COME OUT AND GET HIM. SO AS FAR AS IDENTIFYING HIMSELF IT WAS DONE. THE FITCHBURG PD SHOULD HAVE CALLED THE WCSO IF THERE WAS THIS GREAT CONCERNE ON THEIR PART, BUT INSTEAD YOU HAVE A DEEPUTY SHERIFF IN HIS COUNTY DOING HIS JOD WITH AN UNRULY INMATE IN THE MARKED VEHICLE STOPPED AT GUN POINT. IF HE WAS SUCH A THREAT WHY DIDN'T ALL OF THE FITCHBURG POLICE OFFICERS HAVE THEIR GUNS DRAWN. THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE- IT WAS A PERSONAL ATTACK BY A FEW OFFICERS- I.E SGT. THAT MADE A DISGRACEFUL MISTAKE THAT SHOULD BE AN EMBARASSMENT FOR HIS DEPARTMENT. BUT ONCE AGAIN THIS TYPE OF STEREOTYPING HAS TO STOP . A DEPUTY SHERIFF IS LAW ENFORCEMENT AND IF THEY WANTED TO PATROL YOUR TOWN "-THEIR COUNTY" TOMORROW THEY CAN. IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE LAWS OF THE COMMOMWEALTH GO TO BEACON HILL. THIS INCIDENT IS AN EMBARASSMENT FOR ALL THAT ARE INVOLVED TO PLACE ANOTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER UNDER ARREST FOR DOING HIS JOB. MAYBE TODAY I SHOULD GO TO FITCHBURG AND ARREST AN OFFICER WHO SPEEDS BY ME OR GIVES ME A LOOK I DON'T LIKE. IS THIS WHAT THIS WORLD IS COMING TO? WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER NOT RIP EACH OTHER OUT OF OUR MARKED CARS AT GUN POINT, BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T LIKE THE IDEA OF THE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE BEING IN THEIR TOWN. GET OVER IT.
 

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Re: Fitchburg PD vs WC Sheriff

I think I'll side line this one....but before I do that I have two words..Caps Lock!!!!!!
 

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Re: Fitchburg PD vs WC Sheriff

I have a problem with this deputy going Code 3 from Boylston Sherrif's Office all the way to Fitchburg. If the guy was SO unruly, then the court officers and Fitchburg PD could have locked this ass up and at least put him in a cell at the courthouse until the WCSD arrived. What was the need for this deputy to be driving like an ass with lights and siren through busy Fitchburg for a non-emergency. And then he has an attitude. He got what he deserved. If it was me I would also file an immediate threat form to the RMV. Another reason that Sheriffs should stick to jails.
 

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Re: Fitchburg PD vs WC Sheriff

Would the situation have had the same outcome if it had been the State Police or the FBI utilizing their emergency lights??
 

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Re: Fitchburg PD vs WC Sheriff

The prisoner was obviously not cooperative, he was probably going nuts in the van, probably hurting himself, and the cop pulls the van over? Thats not right. And if the court couldnt handle him what makes you think they could have just thrown him in a cell there. That deputy should never have been pulled over, and especially there should never have been unholsetered firearms. The guy might lose his job for doing his job and taking care off shit other departments can't handle.
 

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Unless "you" were there, no one knows what transpired. With that in mind, "I.D. please", "O.K.", "Have a nice day/evening, be safe", "Thanks, you too."
 

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Unless this guy was really driving like a complete a-hole, perhaps it would've been better to follow him and not confront him until he reached his destination and unloaded his prisoner. Also, this guy wasn't definitely a deputy sheriff, I have C.O. friends in my county that are not deputies that do occasional pick ups.
 

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All I have to say is WTFO!!!!! Sheriff in marked vehicle and uniform, Fitchburg Officer arrests him for using lights and sirens? Are you kidding me! Is there nothing better to do in Fitchburg then to mess with the Sheriff's? Somebody asked earlier what if it was the State Police or the FEDS, I guarantee it would have been handled a lot different if at all. MY .02
 

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I know most of the details of this incident. The officer is a sworn deputy sheriff with over 10 years experience. He has a canine. He is also a municipal police officer. He was dispatched from West Boylston to Fitchburg to assist in taking custody of the prisoner.

They called the lockup while in route to see if the prisoner was still a problem. He was. Getting there without blue lights at that time of day will take 45 minutes. There are a dozen other prisoners waiting to be brought to the jail on this trip also. They are driving a fully marked cruiser, not just an SUV as described in the article.

They get to the court, take custody of the prisoner exit the court and put him into their fully marked cruiser.

They are met by an officer in an unmarked who tells them that another officer wants to speak to them and he leaves. They wait for the other officer who arrives in an unmarked cruiser.

She wants to know what the emergency was and wants to see the deputy's license and registration. He is in full uniform with his name tag on and all, standing next to his fully marked, numbered cruiser with police plates on it and a prisoner in it. He tells her if she has a problem, to contact his supervisor. Everyone gets into their cars and leaves.

Five to ten minutes later a cruiser comes behind them with the overheads activated. They are on a bridge. Policy says they don't stop unless it it is absolutely necessary. They call and speak to the OIC. He tells them to stop and see what they want. They do.

Deputy stops, gets out of cruiser and is immediately confronted with with guns pointed at him, and being told he is under arrest. He complies after being told to do so by his supervisor. He had to unholster his firearm after the arresting officers could not get it out.

The only charges that night were disorderly and failure to stop. The rest came after the reporter called.
 

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Maybe if the Deputy acted a little more professional he wouldn't have any issues. I say good job by the patrolwoman.

By the way, TOMMY70.....try the decaf bud.
 

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Re: Fitchburg PD vs WC Sheriff

PBC FL Cop @ 20 Nov 2004 20:07 said:
Would the situation have had the same outcome if it had been the State Police or the FBI utilizing their emergency lights??
I think we all know the true answer to this one.
 

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Not taking sides in original incident, but will answer "what if MSP".

In my town a traffic enforcement officer kept seeing a particular Trooper ripping thru town at ~2x the speed limit (marked cruiser, no lights/siren) day after day. He pulled the Trooper over and told him that unless he was responding to an emergency (with lights/siren) that he was like everyone else and had to obey the speed limit. Trooper took an attitude and officer told him that the next time it happened he'd report it to the Troop Commander. So, the Trooper pushed his luck and the officer filed a complaint with the Troop Commander. Said Trooper got in serious hot water and after that learned how to drive slower thru here.

Said traffic enforcement officer had big brass ones, and was a hell of a fine officer (retired as a Sgt a few years ago).

So, yes some officers will take on the big boys.
 

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"......Officer Bairos is one of the most dedicated officers in the city. She takes traffic enforcement very seriously," :roll: That about says it all people.

Seems like Patrolwoman Barios is the local C.90 meter maid of Fitchburg PD. She should have left it alone or just mailed the cite to the C.O. instead of causing a ruckus at the side of the road for all the motoring public to enjoy.

When a Police or Sheriff M/V is being driven with blue lights and siren, it is driven cautiously, exercising great care and restraint while adhering to all the applicable traffic laws. He's being charged with "reckless operation of a motor vehicle" which is what cop cars do while responding to emergencies.

He's being charged with "assault with a dangerous weapon (gun)" but as Otto states, the gun was unholstered by the C.O. after his arrest since the Fitchburg PD obviously doesn't know how to break leather on a triple restraint holster. Since this firearm was fully holstered during the traffic stop and arrest, how can he be charged with this crime?

J809 or whoever....
Read their department rules and regs regarding prisoners before you throw this guy under the bus. You don't work there & this C.O. obviously has for 10+ years and is a K-9 guy there. He obviously has his s#it together and the Fitchburg C.90 meter maid didn't like his initial response to her questions behind the court house. If anything should have been done, it should have occured at the point of contact, not 5-10 minutes later while the C.O. does his job he is trained for.
 

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"......Officer Bairos is one of the most dedicated officers in the city. She takes traffic enforcement very seriously," :roll: That about says it all people.

Seems like Patrolwoman Barios is the local C.90 meter maid of Fitchburg PD. She should have left it alone or just mailed the cite to the C.O. instead of causing a ruckus at the side of the road for all the motoring public to enjoy.

When a Police or Sheriff M/V is being driven with blue lights and siren, it is driven cautiously, exercising great care and restraint while adhering to all the applicable traffic laws. He's being charged with "reckless operation of a motor vehicle" which is what cop cars do while responding to emergencies.

He's being charged with "assault with a dangerous weapon (gun)" but as Otto states, the gun was unholstered by the C.O. after his arrest since the Fitchburg PD obviously doesn't know how to break leather on a triple restraint holster. Since this firearm was fully holstered during the traffic stop and arrest, how can he be charged with this crime?

J809 or whoever....
Read their department rules and regs regarding prisoners before you throw this guy under the bus. You don't work there & this C.O. obviously has for 10+ years and is a K-9 guy there. He obviously has his s#it together and the Fitchburg C.90 meter maid didn't like his initial response to her questions behind the court house. If anything should have been done, it should have occured at the point of contact, not 5-10 minutes later while the C.O. does his job he is trained for.
:dito:

Stopping a marked emergency vehicle traveling with lights and siren? Come on now... I wonder how she'd react if a Trooper pulled her over while she was traveling code 3. I wonder what her motivations were for stopping the vehicle... I doubt it was the safety of other motorists.
 

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:dito:

Stopping a marked emergency vehicle traveling with lights and siren? Come on now... I wonder how she'd react if a Trooper pulled her over while she was traveling code 3. I wonder what her motivations were for stopping the vehicle... I doubt it was the safety of other motorists.
Well, MGL only alows a SAFE exception to the traffic laws once other traffic has yeilded,
Was this CO driving like a new vollie firefighter with a hard-on for his first real house fire?
The degree of his erraticness will need to be a huge deciding factor.... IMO,... but who am I....
 

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Discussion Starter #20
LenS @ Sun 21 Nov said:
Not taking sides in original incident, but will answer "what if MSP".

In my town a traffic enforcement officer kept seeing a particular Trooper ripping thru town at ~2x the speed limit (marked cruiser, no lights/siren) day after day. He pulled the Trooper over and told him that unless he was responding to an emergency (with lights/siren) that he was like everyone else and had to obey the speed limit. Trooper took an attitude and officer told him that the next time it happened he'd report it to the Troop Commander. So, the Trooper pushed his luck and the officer filed a complaint with the Troop Commander. Said Trooper got in serious hot water and after that learned how to drive slower thru here.

Said traffic enforcement officer had big brass ones, and was a hell of a fine officer (retired as a Sgt a few years ago).

So, yes some officers will take on the big boys.
Thats what I'm saying. This trooper was speeding without lights and siren day after day and when finally stopped, had an attitude and then after being warned, did it again. I didn't see where three cruisers stopped him at gun point and locked him up. Not that I think that would have been appropriate, but neither were the actions of Fitchburg PD arresting this deputy.

Failure to stop and disorderly conduct??? This is an ego P.O.P. arrest and it doesn't sound like a good one, I wouldn't have wanted to be the arresting agency in this mess. Hope the deputy has a good lawyer$$
 
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