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Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken drivers
By Sarah MacDonald / News Staff Writer
Thursday, September 9, 2004

NATICK -- Two Natick police officers said yesterday they had driven home possibly drunk drivers instead of arresting them because of their connection to area police departments.

The officers, subpoenaed to testify in an administrative hearing at Town Hall, said they used discretion when deciding how to handle a number of suspected drunken driving incidents over the past decade.

"I removed a hazard from the roadway," said Officer Allan Graham, who testified that in December 2002, he and Sgt. Brian Grassey drove home a former Natick police officer who had been stopped for erratic driving. "I did what I was supposed to do."

Grassey is appealing a three-day suspension he received for not arresting the retired officer in that incident.

"I didn't think it was necessary to overrule the officer at the scene," Grassey saidhe said when called to testify yesterday. "It's a decision based on the elements of each event that we go to."

The case involved a 911 call reporting a drunken driver near Speen Street who eventually rear-ended another car. Grassey, an 18-year veteran of the force, was called and ended up driving the man home rather than arresting him.

A witness called a selectman later to complain about the incident, and Grassey was suspended for giving the man preferential treatment.

Attorney Alan McDonald has argued Grassey exercised discretion when handling the situation, saying the suspension was motivated by Grassey's activity as the union president.

Town lawyer Joseph Bartulis contends Grassey knew the man was drunk and should have arrested him.

McDonald is also trying to prove that preferential treatment is part of the department's culture, and he called a number of officers to support that claim.

Graham testified he thought he would face "heat" for arresting the retired officer and told Grassey, "I would like to drive him home, but if he doesn't cooperate, we'll lock him up."

Grassey said he trusted Graham, who has made more than 500 drunken driving arrests in his 18 years as a police officer.

"I didn't question it based on his expertise in this area," said Grassey, who added he knew only that the driver had been drinking, not that he was drunk.

Graham said he was the backup officer at three similar calls -- two involving police officers from surrounding towns and one involving a Natick officer's friend -- which all resulted in the drivers being taken home and not to the station.

He said Grassey's decision to drive the retired officer home was not unusual. "We couldn't let him walk home, couldn't let him drive home, so we took him home," Graham said.

Officer Robert Hoffman testified he drove home a retired Brookline police officer rather than arresting him after a traffic stop 10 years ago.

So far, Town Administrator Phil Lemnios has held three hearings and heard testimony from Police Chief Dennis Mannix, Sgts. Thomas Lamont, Brian Lauzon and Bob Davis and Officers Graham, Hoffman and Elizabeth Heffler.

The town hearings must be complete before Grassey could appeal to either the state Civil Service Commission or an arbitrator. McDonald has said he is likely to appeal.

( Sarah MacDonald can be reached at 508-626-4447 or [email protected]. )
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

ditto, Mark!
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

Discretion is an officer's best tool and appears to have been utilized correctly in these cases.
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

I absolutely agree with Natick on this too.... if it wasn't for discretion in my department we would have a lot more students leaving here with records for any number of things includung DUI.
 
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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

If we don't take care of each other who will take care of us. Just don't be stupid about it
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

OK, riddle me this. For those of us who are trying to get on the job:

Anyone who has interviewed for the position of police officer has been asked this in the form of those wonderful scenario questions. What the hell are those of you sitting on the hiring panel looking for? Are you looking for the politically correct "I would lock up the offender" or the team player "I would use my discretion and drive him home or call some one to come pick him up"

Just so you know I completely agree with the officer's decision to use his discretion. I am an old school grunt and That is one of the things that draws me into the police work- it is the comradery, the brotherhood (and sisterhood to be politically correct). I always answered with the truth; I would take him home. I am sure that every single cop on that sat on that panel would arrest a fellow officer if they could use their discretion and not arrest him and remove the hazard, but I wondered if they graded me poorly when I answered truthfully. I always thought that was a double edged sword or catch 22.
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

Im not old school, heck im not even in the school. But I have been given the benifit of the doubt when I was pulled over speeding (6MPH over) in NH once. :oops:

So I know whats its like to be cut a break. It would be so god dam awkward if you were to have to arrest somebody that took you under thier wing when you were a rookie, or you worked with for years and years.
In a case like this I fully support Natick PO's.

Sometimes you run into a situation where your discretion,expierience and common sense are far more valuable than a SOP book written for a non standerd job.

I will bet you the woman in marks avatar that the person that called and complained about "Special treatment" would be the first one to cry about giveing them a break and "come on I wasnt going that fast" if they got pulled over. People like this always have a bug up thier ass and are never satisfied and want the double standerd. :roll:
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

mark I ditto!! Is this what small towns do, bust the officers balls? :twisted: Nice to see non police personal handling the complaint. :twisted:
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

stm4710 @ 09 Sep 2004 13:04 said:
I will bet you the woman in marks avatar...
You physically own the woman in Mark's avatar? :? Stud! :lol:

...that the person that called and complained about "Special treatment" would be the first one to cry about giveing them a break and "come on I wasnt going that fast" if they got pulled over. People like this always have a bug up thier ass and are never satisfied and want the double standerd. :roll:
Could be. Maybe it could have even been someone with a personal grudge against the officer. You never know who's watching you.
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

I agree, I am all for helping a fellow brother out no matter what department you work for.
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

Could be. Maybe it could have even been someone with a personal grudge against the officer. You never know who's watching you.
That's why they should have at least PC'd the guy. You never know who's watching and at least if they placed him in PC the "witness" would have thought they were locking him up and they would have been "satisfied". For christ sakes, just cuff 'em then drive him home... Make it look good.

I'm all for extending courtesy to a fellow Brother (or sister) but like I said before, I'm not losing my job for you. And IF I do extend the courtesy, I'll probably be rude and pissed off at you -- don't expect royal treatment (the only royal treatment you'll get is not being charged). But if you are totally wasted, can't walk, and barely stand,...tell it to the judge. I hold PO's at a higher standard to the average Joe. The fact the PO didn't kill anyone should be enough self-satisfaction... how would it look with your name in an article titled "Drunk cop kills family of four" ?
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

BRAVO from myself also to the Natick officers. You just don't see the Brotherhood taking care of each other anymore. Especially out here in western Mass. It seems that the "new" generation of cops are all about moving up, even if it means stabbing their "Brothers" in the back. Anyway, enough griping. Good for the Natick guys.
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

People, take VOR's hint and remember that this is a public forum, meaning ANYONE could be reading this... :roll: I've only been on the job for a few months, but boy is the saying true, we are our own worst enemy sometimes...
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

Wow!

Controversial topic.
:wink:

P.C. would be a good option I think. (you did your job) or
Criminal App/tow car and let him call in his favors in court? (you did your job)

For a job interview question? I would say "everyone is treated equally, he/she is getting locked up if Intoxicated."

Bottom line..........................VOR is da man!
 

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Re: Officers admit giving rides to some suspected drunken dr

The third rule of Fight Club is...
 
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