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July 8, 2013

New reports emerge in town officials' confrontation

SALISBURY — Two more versions of an angry verbal exchange between police officer Mark Thomas and Building Inspector David Lovering have surfaced, giving another perspective that is less inflammatory than a recently released police report.

Thomas and Lovering got into a verbal altercation on June 6 in which Thomas reported that Lovering was confrontational, using angry language and gestures when Thomas refused to enter and check an uninhabited Pike Street residence, as Lovering had requested. Thomas’ report details an expletive-laden, intense verbal argument with Lovering, which Thomas described as borderline criminal disorderly conduct. Although no charges were lodged against Lovering, Thomas’ report indicates he repeatedly yelled and swore at the officer to such an extent it drew the attention of passers-by.

But two other written reports exist, one by Lovering, and the other by firefighter Ken Troffater, who was the third party at the scene. Both indicate a disagreement, but without the extreme volatility present in Thomas’ report, and without Lovering’s repeated cursing.

Trofatter is the one who originally received a report of the “possibly unsafe condition” of a Pike Street home, according to his report. He called Lovering about it, and picked up the building inspector in his Fire Department cruiser so they could investigate the home together. Thomas was later called to the home as well.

Although Thomas’ report records anger and confrontation, as well as Lovering using foul language, the other two reports are less incendiary, and record little use of expletives.

Town Manager Neil Harrington read each of the three reports, and spoke with Trofatter and Lovering, but not Thomas, who discussed the situation with police Chief Tom Fowler. Fowler told Harrington Thomas stands by his report.

After his investigation, Harrington believes Trofatter’s report is “pretty much right down the middle.” Harrington said he asked Lovering about swearing, which Lovering denied, and which Trofatter doesn’t include much of in his report.

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