Police report mostly peaceable New Year's Eve
A survey of Island police reveals that Islanders and visitors were generally well-behaved during the long New Year's weekend. But there were a few exceptions.
In one incident involving an alleged drunk driver who drove across a lawn, leaving streaks of divots in his wake in an attempt to evade Oak Bluffs police, officers took no chances. They drew their pistols when the man ignored repeated commands to show his hands, according to a report of the incident that ended with the man's arrest.
Despite the Island's generally festive mood and conventional wisdom which dictates that it is counterproductive to hurl obscenities at police, at least two of those stopped had quite a bit to say to their arresting officers, and it was not happy New Year, according to police reports.
Up-Island, it was quiet. Blame it on the cold rainy weather that kept folks in, or bedtime catching up to an aging baby boomer group of party animals growing long in the tooth, but there was not much going on, said police contacted by The Times.
Aquinnah was exceedingly peaceable, said officer Ryan Ruley. The same was true in Chilmark.
And in West Tisbury, a community known more for generating good reading than revelry? "Believe it or not, it was all quiet," said West Tisbury Sergeant Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter, who is also chairman of the town selectmen. "Not a single incident, nothing out the ordinary."
The excitement in Tisbury centered on "Last Night, First Day" events and a display of fireworks that illuminated Vineyard Haven Harbor through the fog. "Nothing major at all," said one police officer.
In Edgartown, one of only two Island towns where a partygoer could purchase a glass of champagne to toast the arrival of the New Year, a quick review of the police log revealed that on Friday night police arrested one person for operating under the influence and took two people into protective custody.
In a telephone conversation on Monday, Oak Bluffs police sergeant James Morse described the holiday weekend in one of the Island's busiest towns as "fairly peaceful and tranquil." That assessment was a matter of perspective, undoubtedly based on years of experience.
There were no motor vehicle accidents, and police received no calls to quiet loud house parties, a staple of summertime work. Sergeant Morse reported that, from Dec. 28 until Monday morning, police had logged 80 service calls, mostly routine calls, including traffic stops.
Police took a man who had passed out behind the wheel of his car at 2 am on the last day of the year in the Reliable Market parking lot into protective custody. Five drivers who chose to drive rather than park their cars were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, including one man who was quick to provide a name but could not remember where he lived when asked for his address and was charged with providing a false name to a police officer in addition to several other charges.
Official police reports often provide a level of detail that illuminates basic police work and the personal interactions, some trying, that are part and parcel of traffic stops.
Sergeant Morse wrote he was sitting in an unmarked police car on Beach Road by State Beach monitoring traffic on Wednesday evening when a pickup truck passed his location heading to Oak Bluffs and accelerated to a speed of 60 miles per hour (mph), according to his hand-held radar unit.
Sergeant Morse pulled the truck over just before little bridge. He was later joined by Sergeant George Fisher and Robert Branca of the state police.
"Despite a sinus cold," Sgt. Morse wrote in his report, "I was able to detect the odor of alcohol coming from inside the vehicle."
The 25-year-old driver provided his name, but according to the report "stated that he did not know his address but that it was out of Fairhaven. He stated that he did not know his Social Security number."
Police asked the driver to perform four separate tests used to determine a driver's level of intoxication, including the "one-leg stand" and the "nine-step walk and turn."
"On step four he staggered off the line and stopped the test," wrote Sgt. Morse. "[The driver] stated, 'Look I'm buzzed, I can't do that one when I'm sober.' I deemed this test a failure."
The man was initially arrested and booked at the Dukes County Jail under the assumed name he initially provided to police. The driver's true identity was learned after he was fingerprinted. His license was suspended and he had two outstanding warrants according to the report.
In another incident that occurred on Saturday afternoon, police officer David Berube was passing Fresh Pond Estates on County Road when he saw an oncoming pickup truck traveling at a speed that he estimated to be more than 55 mph and that registered 69 mph on his forward-facing radar unit.
Officer Berube turned to pursue the truck, which he watched turn into Fresh Pond Estates. "When I arrived at Fresh Pond Estates less than one minute later, I immediately noticed fresh tire marks in the pavement," he wrote in his case report. "These continued onto the grass off the side of the roadway. I then observed major damage to the Estate's decorative entryway and tire marks leading from this damage down the drive. I also observed freshly raised dust in the air."
Officer Berube called special officer Christopher Oteri and asked that he join him. Driving to the crest of a hill he saw a man standing on the back porch of a house shouting that the vehicle had gone down a hill and pointing behind a house under construction.
Mr. Berube joined by Mr. Oteri walked behind the house and found the truck that was registered to a 46-year-old Tisbury resident. The driver was spotted crouching behind a large tree in the woods.
Officer Oteri shouted "Oak Bluffs police" and instructed the driver to place his hands where the police could see them. He refused and shouted an expletive.
"Unsure of our safety we pointed our service weapons at [the driver] as officer Oteri continued to issue commands and [the driver] refused to comply. [The driver] shouted, [expletive] in response to each of officer Oteri's commands. At one point in the exchange [the driver] shouted, 'You're not gonna shoot me for a [expletive] OUI.'"
The narrative continued, "Finally, [the driver] stood up from behind the tree and began to stagger forward through the woods. He had a cigarette in his right hand but his left hand was inside his coat pocket. We ordered [the driver] to stop moving and take his hand out of his jacket. He did not, continued to repeat [expletive], and advanced toward me on a path. Sergeant Morse arrived at this point, and we continued to command [the driver] to get his hand out of his jacket."
The police report stated that the man, who had advanced to within a short distance of officer Berube, took his hand out of his jacket but refused to get on the ground. The officers holstered their weapons.
The incident ended when Sergeant Morse shot a burst of an incapacitating chemical into the driver's face. He was then handcuffed and searched for weapons. None were found.
"Once the frisk was complete," read the report, "Sergeant Morse removed [the driver's] eyeglasses and administered sterile saline to his eyes. Sergeant Morse repeated this several times, calmly reassuring [the driver] that the effects would continue to diminish."
At the jail the driver submitted to a breath alcohol test. The reading, at 0.16 percent, was twice the legal limit of 0.8 percent.
A search of the man's car, according to the report turned up: one open half-full 750 ml bottle of 100 proof Smirnoff Vodka; three unopened 750 ml bottles of Cook's Champagne; one open and empty bottle and one unopened bottle of Close Call breath freshener; one empty and unlabelled prescription bottle; and one empty and unlabelled prescription bottle containing a small blue pill later identified as Viagra.
The man was charged with nine separate complaints.