NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

August 16, 2013

Haverhill officers should accept punishment

Two Haverhill police officers whom the city has disciplined for giving preferential treatment to a former state trooper should take their punishment and be thankful that it was so light.

Instead, Lt. William Leeman and patrolman Christopher Pagliuca, who have had two requests to the Civil Service Commission to reverse their suspensions rejected, now plan to appeal to state Superior Court.

The punishment was well deserved.

Leeman and Pagliuca were suspended for 10 and five days, respectively, for violating police rules and ethical standards, as well as unsatisfactory performance. The suspensions stem from an incident March 30, 2012, in which Charles Noyes, a retired state police colonel, crashed his SUV in West Newbury then continued driving across the town line into Haverhill, where he stopped in the middle of a travel lane.

The crash snapped a utility pole on Route 113 in West Newbury, knocking out power for 11 hours.

Noyes drove his Cadillac Escalade into Haverhill with its air bags deployed. Several police officers and medics at the scene testified that they believed Noyes to be intoxicated, but Noyes was not charged with drunk driving and he was not arrested.

Both West Newbury and Haverhill police officers were at the scene, with a West Newbury officer arriving first. West Newbury police charged Noyes with leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage.

Noyes later admitted to sufficient facts and was sentenced in Newburyport District Court to six months of unsupervised probation.

But the failure to charge Noyes with drunken driving and to arrest him at the scene is the source of the controversy.

An internal Haverhill police investigation found that Noyes was given special treatment by both West Newbury and Haverhill police officers due to his previous state police position, and that officers acted to cover up their actions in investigating the incident.

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