, Newburyport, MA


June 5, 2014

Thoughts on police, politics and Plum Island

A few observances from this week’s news:

It was good to see that Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler has been returned to duty. Fowler was placed on administrative leave following the shooting death of a machete-wielding man on a Salisbury Beach side street in mid-May. Fowler was one of the officers who responded, and fired his weapon as the man allegedly charged toward the officers with his machete.

Fowler has been cleared to return to duty and was eager to get back to his job. This was the first time in his nearly three decades on the job that he had fired his weapon during an incident. This incident has all the hallmarks of a “suicide by cop” scenario, in which police are forced to shoot and kill a distraught person who threatens their lives. It is a sad and tragic end for all involved, and no doubt changes an officer’s life forever.

Fowler has been a steady hand at the rudder of the Salisbury police department. Salisbury is well served having him back on the job.

In Amesbury, Mayor Ken Gray has shown that a political neophyte with a good mind for numbers and a fix-it attitude can get a lot accomplished.

Earlier this week, Gray managed to find money to fund half of the $330,000 in cuts that were deemed most crucial in next school year’s budget. He also held the line on one of the key issues that earned him the mayor’s seat — tamping down on tax hikes. As he has done throughout his brief time in office, he has tried to bridge Amesbury’s political gap, and this was another example of it.

One of the most impressive compliments came from longtime School Committee member Stan Schwartz, who applauded Gray’s dogged efforts to find money to fix some of the schools’ problems — the best effort Schwartz said he has seen by a mayor in his 14 years on the committee.

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