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Wareham police officers on bicycles ride along Onset Avenue in Onset Village.Mike Valeri

By Jennifer Lade
Standard-Times staff writer

WAREHAM - It's around 8:30 p.m. and dozens of kids in their early teens are flocking to Onset village. Some groups hang out in the gazebo across the street from the outdoor movie playing at the band shell. Others congregate in front of Marc Anthony's pizzeria.
"You have a lot of kids that are dropped off by parents and left to roam about," said Sgt. John Walcek, surveying the crowd from the corner of Onset Avenue and South Boulevard.
He had to interrupt a conversation several times to tell kids to stop hanging on a street sign or to get out of the road as cars in both directions came to a stop.
"We're almost playing the role of a parent down here."
Welcome to another Thursday night in Onset, when a crowd gathers to watch free outdoor movies and others just socialize on the bluffs, sidewalks and streets.
Many people agree the situation in the village is less threatening than a year ago, when nuisance crimes were rampant and drugs were a bigger problem. A larger police presence and help from Crime Watch have largely contributed to the turnaround.

But police face an external investigation on a complaint that an officer used excessive force during the arrest of a teen. While many praise the department for its crackdown on crime, it is clear that the relationship between the different groups in Onset remains uneasy.
That relationship snapped on the night of July 10, when a 12-year-old was arrested after allegedly yelling obscenities at police, according to reports. His 14-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister were also arrested after they tried to interfere. At least one eyewitness said an officer used excessive force when arresting the girl, and two residents filed a complaint.
An internal investigation into the incident came back with no specific finding. While police received differing accounts from eyewitnesses, the mother of the 15-year-old refused to allow her to be interviewed by investigators, Police Chief Thomas Joyce said. After Kenny Fontes, one of the people who filed the complaint, approached selectmen, the board voted to refer the matter to an outside agency.
Acting Town Administrator John Sanguinet said Friday that he had contacted the Plymouth County District Attorney's office and was waiting for a response on how to proceed with an investigation.

"Nature of this job"

As the 4 p.m. to midnight shift supervisor, Sgt. Walcek is taking the situation in stride.
"I think it comes with the territory," he said. "People's perception of what happened is just that, a perception ... It's the nature of this job that not everybody's going to be happy with what they see."

Still, he said, the officers in Onset truly care about the people they are serving.
"They go out and give 110 percent. They really do," he said.
Last year, police took flak for not doing enough to keep Onset safe and orderly. Shop owners said crowds of unruly teens were hurting business, while selectmen said the police budget was not well-managed, preventing more officers from having beats in Onset.
This year, business owners seem happier. Marc Anthony's pizzeria was still bustling at 9 p.m. on Thursday, and co-owner John Salerno said the groups of teens neither hurt nor help his business.
"If we get the police around, it's not a problem," he said. "Kids are kids, they just need to be supervised ... Last year, we just needed help."
Plymouth resident Chickie Celli said she regularly takes her family to the Onset Bay Movie Co. free showings at the band shell. In the past, she said, she noticed "a rougher crowd," but this year, things seem better.

"I've always thought it was nice, family-friendly," she said.
Selectmen Chairman Jim Potter, who has worked with the Onset Bay Movie Co. since its inception 11 years ago, is quick to point out that the band shell is not where there is a problem. The rowdiness occurs across the street or up the road, out of sight from the band shell.
Mr. Potter said the outdoor movie showings give teens a free nighttime activity to attend, as long as they can behave.
"Here's something that doesn't even cost them money," and yet many teens choose not to participate, he said.
The problem was at its worst last year, he said.
"The situation has probably improved, but I'm not sure it's really fixed," Mr. Potter said. "The generation has just lost the respect for the authority."

Police public information officer Lt. Irving Wallace said the Police Department is always getting mixed signals about how to handle the Onset crowds.
"We have had residents come forward and actually express their satisfaction with the way things are down there," Lt. Wallace said. But, he added, "the other segment that wants to hang around the street corners isn't going to be happy if you're regularly moving them.
"It is mixed, it's always going to be mixed," he said. "You do the best job that you can."

"It's just an excuse"

As Thursday night wore on, more groups of teens could be observed around the village, playing hacky sack in the area behind the band shell or milling around the streets and sidewalks.
One group of teens admitted that they use the Thursday night movie as a cover to hang out in Onset.

"It's just an excuse to tell our parents," said Robert Flaherty, 16. But, he added, his friends aren't causing any trouble as they wander around the village.
"No one bothers us or anything," he said. "We're the ones that follow the trouble and watch."
Another group standing on the sidewalk on Onset Avenue said they are just having fun.
"We hang out, just chill with a couple friends," said Dominick Alves, 13. "We're in Onset every day."
His friend, Danny Devarros, 17, said they are always told to keep moving.
"Police always give us a hard time," he said. When asked why, Dominick chimed in again.

"I think it's because we're black," he said.
Danny agreed. He said one night his friends were forced to move while on another corner, white people were loitering without anyone bothering them.
"We had to move or else we were threatened to get arrested," he said.
A second later, Sgt. Walcek called to them to stop blocking the sidewalk. The teens moved on.
Onset resident Shelley Lueck said discrimination plays a role in which kids get in trouble.
"There are a few cops on the force that are very prejudiced, and I've seen it," she said, but did not give details.

She said she has never had a problem with the kids in Onset, but her neighbor, Heather Kelley, said her house was egged twice this summer.
"That's on the parents," Ms. Lueck said, adding that kids need a curfew. Her older children, ranging in age from 10 to 17, are allowed to hang out with friends across the street while she watches the outdoor movie with the younger ones, but their curfew is 9:30 p.m.
"My 10-year-olds are not running the streets at 12:00 at night," she said.
Shanel Bullock, 13, and 14-year-old Tamyra Alves (no relation to Dominick) were riding their bikes in the village around 8:30 p.m., but said they had to be home in an hour. Both said they understood their parents' concern.
"You get in trouble a lot" if you hang out in Onset, Tamyra said.
 

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Jeezum!
Are any of those girls over 12? WTF! reminds me of that line in Battle of the Bulge... "release the boy, shoot the father"
Parents just gotta love em!
:rolleyes:
 

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Onset resident Shelley Lueck said discrimination plays a role in which kids get in trouble.
"There are a few cops on the force that are very prejudiced, and I've seen it," she said, but did not give details.
Thats some high quality, responsible journalism..... NOT.
 

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Thats some high quality, responsible journalism..... NOT.
There ain't gonna be no Pulitzer Prizes coming out of the New Bedford Standard Times. Never has been- never will be.

Why just a few weeks ago there was a story about a New Bedford narcotics cop who discharged his "service revolver" (a Glock 23) while making an arrest.
 

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I love the media. Excessive force, the officer used handcuffs.

Sometimes I get VERY annoyed with DSS. Stupid mom leaves kids home alone and they end up in the street. Problem is they are 3 and 4. You need DSS now. They should have a "okay we will follow up ASAP" system and an oh crap, lets get there now emergency system! That way you don't get put on hold when XYZ police calls for an emergency and end up baby sitting kids for ever down at the station. I just want the kids to go on there way with DSS, a relative or who ever. Because I get very sad when I see the kids upset at their moron mother for doing this. Totally unacceptable, then years latter the kids end up in jail (usually) or with mental illness exacerbated by years of abuse and neglect.
 
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I've actually had pretty good luck with DSS the last few years; everytime they needed to come out they have, everytime they needed to remove a child they have, and they've even come out when they didn't really need to. That's fine with me, always err on the side of caution when dealing with the safety of children.
 

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One group of teens admitted that they use the Thursday night movie as a cover to hang out in Onset.

"It's just an excuse to tell our parents," said Robert Flaherty, 16. But, he added, his friends aren't causing any trouble as they wander around the village.
"No one bothers us or anything," he said. "We're the ones that follow the trouble and watch."
Another group standing on the sidewalk on Onset Avenue said they are just having fun.
"We hang out, just chill with a couple friends," said Dominick Alves, 13. "We're in Onset every day."
His friend, Danny Devarros, 17, said they are always told to keep moving.
"Police always give us a hard time," he said. When asked why, Dominick chimed in again.
"I think it's because we're black," he said.

Gee whiz Mr cleaver...didnt see that coming!
 

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It amazes me how you don't hear a peep from the parents until their kid gets in trouble, then you can't shut them the hell up.

Although I've seen the positive results of DSS it wouldn't hurt to substitute them with the "It takes a village to raise a child" mentality every once in a while.
 
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One group of teens admitted that they use the Thursday night movie as a cover to hang out in Onset.

"It's just an excuse to tell our parents," said Robert Flaherty, 16.
My father would ask to see the ticket stub, as well as a rundown on what the plot of the movie was. God help me if I didn't have both.

His friend, Danny Devarros, 17, said they are always told to keep moving.
"Police always give us a hard time," he said. When asked why, Dominick chimed in again.
"I think it's because we're black," he said.
Yes, it has nothing to do with you and your friends blocking the sidewalks and intimidating people who are there to actually patronize the businesses. :rolleyes:
 

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Smart kid now its in the paper. Everyone knows everyone over 45 still reads the PAPER newspaper. All though online it will say the same thing.
 
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Mine checked the mileage on the car, quizzed us on the Vestment colors at church, and spontaneously showed up at the rink where I was skating, to make sure I was there, and not just left the car there.

(yeah, got busted on that one...ONCE)
One day many moons ago, BrickCop and I were sent to one of the projects in South Boston after one of the maintenance people found a bunch of kids who set up a clubhouse in a little used maintenance room in the basement. It was pretty nice; a bed, desk, bookshelf, TV, etc.

BrickCop immediately walked over to the bed, lifted the mattress from the boxspring, and uncovered a cornucopia of porn magazines. The kids looked at him like he was psychic, and he said "Hey guys, I was 14 once too you know". :cool:
 
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