---- — Police officers have been in the news recently, and not for nabbing criminals. In some cases, the police themselves are accused of criminal behavior.
In Lawrence, a police officer was arrested last week and will face charges in Florida of raping a child.
In Haverhill, a police officer was charged with stalking his estranged wife and her date.
And in Atkinson, selectmen fired their longtime police chief after a month-long investigation. Town officials would not elaborate on their reason for firing Chief Philip Consentino, other than to issue a statement that it “relates to his employment.” Consentino’s lawyer said the firing was not over a criminal issue.
There have been many incidents of police misbehavior over the years. But to have three in just one week is unusual and troubling. We should expect better from these public servants.
Lawrence Officer Carlos Gonzalez was attending a class at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover when city police and detectives from Haines City, Fla., arrested him. Gonzalez was arraigned Thursday in Lawrence District Court for sexual battery by a custodian on a person over age 12 and under age 18 and selling, delivering or serving alcohol to a minor. The alleged assault happened last July while Gonzalez was vacationing there.
Gonzalez, 48, a 24-year veteran of the Lawrence police, will return to Florida to face the charges.
In court for Gonzalez’s arraignment was police Officer Daron Fraser, who is facing assault charges after “belly-bumping” a superior officer at the police station just three weeks after returning from 29 months of paid leave while he was charged with and convicted of assault on his then-girlfriend.
Including Gonzalez and Fraser, there are now four Lawrence police officers on paid leave while facing criminal charges. Deputy Chief Melix Bonilla and officer P.J. Lopez were indicted in September for felony offenses.
In Haverhill, Patrolman Victor “Manny” Pellot was arrested after he allegedly chased his estranged wife and her date through the city and down Interstate 495. Police say that Pellot, who was driving his personal vehicle, at one point pulled his car in front of the couple’s vehicle, walked to it and punched the side-view mirror while yelling at his wife.
According to a police report, Pellot and his wife are in the process of divorcing.
Pellot was arraigned on two counts of stalking. He pleaded not guilty.
In 2004, Pellot had been demoted and was nearly fired for being present in uniform in 2002 and 2003 during illegal drug sales at his cousin’s house.
Pellot has also been commended several times in his career, including once for saving an 83-year-old woman from a burning building.
We expect better from our police forces and we do hold them to a higher standard. We give police officers guns and badges and ask them to swear an oath to uphold the law. That’s a extraordinary level of trust for a free people to grant. Those of us who respect the law also respect those we trust to uphold it.
When police officers violate that trust, they lose that respect. We cannot tolerate law breaking by those sworn to uphold the law.