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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Cop clash is she said vs. he said

State, local officers in roadside dispute
By Dianne Williamson
T&G STAFF

A bizarre butting of heads on the highway between a state trooper and a plainclothes police officer has resulted in simultaneous investigations by both departments.

Worcester Detective Laura Laliberte said Trooper Steven Hennigan ignored her repeated - and eventually heated - assertions that she was an on-duty Worcester police officer after he pulled her over Friday night on Interstate 290, and tried to intimidate her by pushing her and putting his hand on his gun.

State police, meanwhile, said Trooper Hennigan acted appropriately and that Officer Laura Laliberte refused to identify herself, a charge she adamantly denies.

"He's just trying to cover himself," said Officer Laliberte, a 17-year veteran assigned to the Family and Youth Services Division. "There's no doubt in my mind he knew I was a cop. I had my blue lights on and I was pointing to the badge on my belt. What he did was unforgivable and there's no excuse for it."

Officer Laliberte was on duty Friday night in an unmarked cruiser when she pulled up behind Trooper Hennigan's cruiser in the passing lane on I-290 east. She said she kept four to five car lengths behind him, but suspects he became irritated because "usually you get the parting of the seas when a cruiser's on the road."

She said the trooper soon moved into the middle lane and signaled for her to pull over. She said she pulled over, turned on her cruiser's blue lights and got out of her cruiser.

"I thought I'd give him the courtesy of pulling over and letting him know I was in an unmarked cruiser," she said. "So I got out and pointed to my badge and said, "This is an unmarked cruiser. I'm a police officer. I'm working.'"

To her astonishment, the trooper began screaming at her to get back in the car and to proceed to the Grafton Street off-ramp, she said. She said she returned to her car and he used his PA system to continue ordering her to pull over on the off-ramp.

She did so and again told the trooper she was a Worcester police officer, she said. But the trooper responded by ordering her to move to the side of the road, at which point she acknowledges that she became angry.

"I asked him if he was a (expletive) moron," she said. "I said, "I'm going back to work. You do the same.' I told him seven times I was a cop, and my badge and my gun were on my belt. My blue lights were on and he ran a check on my license plate. So I tried to get back in my cruiser, but he jumped in front of me and pushed me away from the door."

She said the trooper also grabbed her wrist, put his hand on his gun in an intimidating manner and blocked her attempts to return to her cruiser.

"I really thought he wanted to get into a shootout on the side of the road," Officer Laliberte said. Then, when the trooper demanded that she produce identification, she told him her ID was in her cruiser.

"I got in my car, rolled up the windows, locked the door and took off," she said. She said she immediately reported the incident to the sergeant on duty.

Trooper Hennigan, who joined the state police in 1992 and teaches at the State Police Academy, declined to comment on the incident. But Timothy Burke, a lawyer for the State Police Association of Massachusetts, provided a different account of the encounter.

"She was the one who was out of control," said Mr. Burke, who said Officer Laliberte was pulled over for speeding and refused to produce an ID. He said the officer should have remained in her cruiser, should not have sworn at the trooper and should have respected the speed limit.

Mr. Burke said the trooper also denied pushing Officer Laliberte.

"Trooper Hennigan is one of the calmest, most professional officers in the state police," Mr. Burke said. "He becomes the bad guy for imposing a standard we want applied to everyone? He didn't do anything wrong ... It's not appropriate for any officer to use the F-bomb when stopped by a trooper."

The fact that some police officers swear when angry and exceed the speed limit while on duty would likely not come as a big surprise to most. Officer Laliberte, for her part, denied she was speeding or that she refused to produce an ID, and said she only become angry when the trooper ignored her assertions that she was a cop.

She also believes that gender played a big role in the cop conflict.

"The only reason this happened was because I'm a female police officer and he thought he could intimidate me," she said. "I don't intimidate easily, and he got more enraged every time I didn't cower. If a male police officer had gotten out of that car, it would have been the end of it."

Officer Laliberte said a meeting was held Friday night between supervisors of the state and local police. She said she told a state police sergeant that she wished to file a complaint against the trooper, but the sergeant said that nothing would come of it because it would be her word against his.

Another meeting was held this week at Worcester Police Headquarters between state police officials and Acting Chief Paul Campbell, who declined on Tuesday to discuss the incident.

"This is an internal police matter, and reports will be sought and are being made," he said.

Lt. Richard Lane, a state police spokesman, said Officer Laliberte's complaint has been referred to the department's Division of Standards and Training and will be "investigated fully." Asked if the incident underscored tensions between state and local police, he said no.

"I think this is an anomaly, quite frankly," Lt. Lane said. "We've been getting along great with Worcester police."

Officer Laliberte agreed, saying she has resisted filing charges against the trooper for fear of damaging relations with the agency.

"I don't think state police are bad people," she said. "There's always been a little tension between state and local police over turf issues, but I've never had a problem before. I love my job. I love being a police officer. I don't want to cause problems for anyone."

Dianne Williamson can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

"And the thin blue thin gets alittle thinner!!!"
 

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Thursday, September 16, 2004
Officer Laliberte was on duty Friday night in an unmarked cruiser when she pulled up behind Trooper Hennigan's cruiser in the passing lane on I-290 east. She said she kept four to five car lengths behind him, but suspects he became irritated because "usually you get the parting of the seas when a cruiser's on the road."

She said the trooper soon moved into the middle lane and signaled for her to pull over. She said she pulled over, turned on her cruiser's blue lights and got out of her cruiser.

"I thought I'd give him the courtesy of pulling over and letting him know I was in an unmarked cruiser," she said. "So I got out and pointed to my badge and said, "This is an unmarked cruiser. I'm a police officer. I'm working.'" ][/color]


If she was on an emergency call, she should have hit the lights/siren and he would have moved. If she was following him and speeding with no emergency, he had every right to pull her over. How would he have known she was a cop?

I like the part where she says that she thought she would give him courtesy and ID herself.....Lol. She has no choice.

If the article is accurate.
 

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Clouseau @ Thu 23 Sep said:
If the article is accurate.
I have no idea if its accurate, thats why I'm hoping some people on board will have some insight. Diane Williamson from the Worcester T&G is a long time Hater of the police, so her spin is usually biased, which is evident in the article. Anyone with personal knowledge of the incident, would be a welcome voice. But unfortunately someone was upset with the incident or Ms. Williamson would not have been contacted.
 

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Miss Williamson does not like the MSP, and takes every chance she can to punch-them-in-the-trunks.

That having been said, I am not the president of the 'Steve Hennigan' fan club. He has hidden away in the academy and in special assignments since he came on the job. If he has three 'road' years on the job, it's a miracle!

But, I know Steve...he is level-headed and not given to over-reaction. I have heard the stories surrounding this incident...and if true, the WPD officer would have been locked-up, if it were up to me.

Not withstanding, the job says we 'get along fine' with WPD...no, there are elements of WPD that hate the MSP. We get along fine with Spfld PD...not Worcester.

Look, I will not, and do not, act like an ass in the local communities...I expect the same from all other police officers when they are in my jurisdiction.

'nuff said.
 

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Unfortunately, that does not seem to represent the general relationship between MSP and Worcester PD. There are a lot of good people on both departments who get along fine, but it's that small percentage that train their kids to hate one-another...it's the old guys who perpetuate the schism, both state and WPD...how sad, when we could actively assist one another and make life easier.
 

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:eek:t: Sorry, If we had cameras in our cruisers (all of us) this would not be a "story"!

Posted Thu 23 Sep, 2004:

Closeau,

My former bride (a local cop) thinks it was the WPD cop who went to Diane...
 

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Here is how it should have gone.

Trooper: Why were you driving so fast ma'am?
WPD Officer: I'm Officer ______ with Worcester PD. Here is my ID.
Trooper: OK take care and be safe, goodbye.

Sweet, simple and to the point...the scumbags love to read about interdepartmental problems. The minute I see an ID and the person is a law enforcement officer 99% of the time it's the end of the conversation. Have a nice day and I am on my way.

One thing I have noticed, rarely is it local cop versus local cop. Could be the smaller municipal police departments all send officers to the same academy in the area so officers get to know other people from other departments from the area.

Maybe it is time for a change…
 

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Mark,

That's not what I heard: according to what is circulating out here, the officer 'went-off' on the trooper. I agree with your described scenario, but that is not (apparently) what happened here. I am one of Trooper Hennigan's biggest critics, but what the local officer avers is not in keeping with what I know of the trooper. Now that the shysters are involved, it will be a long time before we know the rest of the story!

So, lets not get our 'panties in a bunch'! :D

Somebody kill this thread before it gets ugly. There is nothing but speculation, unless the citizens involved want to comment...but given the shyster thing, this is unlikely.
 

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Here is how it should have gone.

Trooper: Why were you driving so fast ma'am?
WPD Officer: I'm Officer ______ with Worcester PD. Here is my ID.
Trooper: OK take care and be safe, goodbye.

My two cents :2c:, MarkBoston hit the nail on the head how things should have gone. Obviously it's a he said she said situation so we will not know if that was ever possible, especially now that is in the paper. Hopefully there won't be too much more resentment between the State and WPD and things can remaim professional, or any other local PD for that matter. It may be a simple view, but we are all on the same team...thats my opinion on the situation.
 

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Trooper: Why were you driving so fast ma'am?
WPD Officer: I'm Officer ______ with Worcester PD. Here is my ID.
Trooper: OK take care and be safe, goodbye.
Exactly, thats how it goes when I pull an off-duty (or on-duty) trooper over.. "have a good one bud!"

"I got in my car, rolled up the windows, locked the door and took off," she said.
Not the brightest bulb in the department though is she? :shock:

Dcs: "Somebody kill this thread before it gets ugly. There is nothing but speculation, unless the citizens involved want to comment...but given the shyster thing, this is unlikely."
Good point. Locked. If anyone gets an update, post it in a new thread.
 
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