LAWRENCE — An auxiliary cop was suspended from the force and ordered to turn in his weapons — including an assault rifle and about 10 other guns — after he confronted a man he believed was carrying an illegal knife at a Lowell Street convenience store and allegedly identified himself as a regular police officer.
Auxiliary police are part-time volunteers whose duties are largely limited to traffic and crowd control. They are not armed and cannot make arrests.
Acting Police Chief James Fitzpatrick would not identify the auxiliary cop, but said he joined the force in November, resigned a short while later, then returned in April.
Fitzpatrick said he is seeking a hearing before a District Court Clerk Magistrate to determine if there is enough evidence to charge the auxiliary cop with impersonating an officer. He said he will remove the officer from the auxiliary force if he is convicted.
Firing the officer would add another small shakeup to a force recently rocked by allegations of sexual harassment and other charges against its former chief, Jay Jackson. Mayor Daniel Rivera fired Jackson his first day in office on Jan. 2. Jackson has denied the allegations and has not been criminally charged. The charges, however, were found to have merit after a departmental investigation and he was disciplined.
The incident involving the auxiliary officer occurred at a 7-11 convenience store at the corner of Lowell and Hampshire streets late on May 21, when the cop saw a male about 23 years old approach the counter with the handle of a knife sticking from his pocket.
“He said, ‘I’m a police officer. What’s in your pocket?’ “Fitzpatrick said.
The man removed the knife, which had a blade only about two or three inches long, making it legal to carry in Lawrence, Fitzpatrick said.
Believing the knife was illegal, the auxiliary officer called police headquarters, which is next door to the 7-11, to request assistance.