February 13, 2016

Francis explains police department’s arrest policy

Mark Taylor
Many Gardner News readers are asking why no arrests were made after Councilman Dennis Pugh allegedly assaulted fellow Councilman Larry Fotovich following Monday night’s council meeting.
According to Chief Kenneth Francis of the Gardner Police Department, police officers only have authority to make arrests when they witness a crime.
If an officer does not see a crime in progress, an investigation is required to determine whether a crime had been committed and whether charges should be filed.
Officers didn’t arrive on the scene until after the alleged assault took place.
Francis said he wants the investigation handled at the district court level rather than municipal court to avoid a potential “conflict of interest.”
“Our position on that was because they (council members) would in effect be leaders of the municipal court,” he said. “The municipal court falls under their purview. In my view, it would be a conflict of interest for them to appear in a court they staff.”
Gardner police officers took statements from both Fotovich and Pugh and forwarded that information to the district attorney for review.
“When a case goes to the district attorney’s office, he reviews the case and makes a decision on whether to prosecute based on the evidence presented,” Francis said.
Neither Fotovich, Pugh nor Mayor Dave Drovetta returned phone calls seeking comment.
The tension between Fotovich and Pugh started earlier in the evening during the council meeting.
During a discussion about whether to videotape council meetings, Pugh told Fotovich to “shut up,” and then said, “I’d drag you into the back room and beat the shit out of you.”
Pugh then stormed out of the room and left the building, slamming doors


  1. GardnerPride says:

    Though it is semantics, I wonder which quote is more accurate. The News reports that Pugh stated “I’d drag you into…”, while the Edge states that Pugh said “I’d like to drag you into”. Though both are absolutely unacceptable, legally speaking, I think there is a big difference.

  2. Mark Taylor…a reporter that reports the facts no personal feelings attached. Glad to be reading your reports again Mark

  3. Judith Rogers says:

    Your city in action – you might want to pay attention – it could be you or your family the next time.

  4. Mark Taylor says:

    Thanks, Dustin. That is what I strive to do every day. It is nice when somebody notices. Thanks.

  5. @Mark Taylor says:

    Mark – I missed your writing, too!! Glad you are back!

  6. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I attended the Council meeting last Monday night. After reading and viewing subsequent news accounts of the incident, I am curious why no mention has been made that also present during the meeting were two Gardner Police officers, including Capt. Moore, second in command to Chief Francis. After law enforcement officers witnessed the events in Council chambers, was a police car detailed to escort Councilmember Fotovich home to ensure his safety?

    From what I could see, the Gardner News reporter covering the meeting took out what appeared to me to be a cell phone and held it up towards the activity on the council rostrum as if recording audio, photo or video of the tail end of the Pugh-Fotovich confrontation. Has that potential evidence been offered to investigators?

  7. Good point. If there were officers present when the threat was made, why wasn’t there (if there wasn’t) a police escort? I still don’t get why someone wasn’t arrested. I can guarantee if John Joe Dinglemeyer-Smith went to city hall and threatened someone publicly, they would be sitting at New Century. I also wonder why these meetings appear to regularly deteriorate into rude and boorish behavior on all counts. Who chairs this meeting – mayor or city manager – and why isn’t the meeting called to order before it gets this bad? Someone needs to step up and be a leader.

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    This is really odd. I was just getting ready to post comments about Capt. Moore not doing good police work in my opinion such as following Pugh home after he saw what transpired at that Council Meeting and staying outside his home or in the vicinity to make sure he didn’t do something more crazy. This didn’t happen to my knowledge but Moore was at Fotovich’s house on that 911 call and for the life of me I cannot understand how Pugh walked away from this without being charged on the spot. I would say Moore is in line for Francis’s job here soon – his handling of this matter doesn’t meet my litmus test which is a shame considering how Moore I believe has been groomed for that promotion – in my opinion he missed an excellent opportunity to police fairly and equitably for the citizens and it shouldn’t matter what parties are involved. I am surpised at Francis too since he has served the people so well for so many years. Citizens don’t know everything that transpired but should know and Moore and Francis can do better – they are very capable of doing so.

  9. Drovetta is the city “leader;” he should have required a police escort, but then he should not become verbally abusive towards sitting council members. The former mayor would never (and did never to my knowledge) allow such a debacle. . I’m sure as “leader” Drovetta is the one who kept Pugh from being arrested. What other person would have that power? Maybe he was trying to save the city embarassment, but it backfired. He let Francis speak publicly, but what is absent from either man’s statement is a statement saying they don’t condone violence or aggressive behavior. The lack of such a statement implies a tacit approval.

  10. It has been my opinion that there is no civility in the city council since the election of Dave Drovitta as mayor. As a citizen who regularly attended city council meeting and work sessions since 2006 I will say that Mayor Lehman always kept order and civility in her meetings. I will also say that with the election of Dave Drovetta as mayor that order and civility went out the window. I saw it time and again and was also a recipient of such treatment .

    Though I have not attended lately it does not surprise me, nor do I doubt it, to read about the unorthodox behavior of the Mayor and Councilman Pugh… This is not the type of representation that is healthy for our city and as a business owner in Gardner I ask for the resignation of Councilman Dale Pugh. Civility and transparency is paramount in all public servants as can openly be viewed in national and foreign reports. Mayor Drovetta is responsible for Gardner’s city government and all conduct in the meetings. I thus ask for Mayor Drovetta’s resignation along with Councilman Pugh’s.

    With the witnessed threat to Councilman Fotovitch action should have been taken to insure his safety….

  11. No surprise there... says:

    Money talks, eh Linda?

  12. Regarding threats says:

    Taken in context of Pugh’s temper tantrum, the statement: “I’d LIKE to take him into the back room and beat the s**t out of him” could seem less like a threat and more like a hothead blowing off steam. Given that Pugh then stormed out of the building, who could have guessed that he would show up later at Fotovich’s house? Makes sense NOW, that we know he DID show up, but looking for conspiracy in not “protecting” Fotovich is perfect 20-20 hindsight.

  13. @No surprise says:

    What’s money have to do with anything in this story? Other than maybe the police deciding Dennis’ money should keep him out of jail.

  14. So when do we find out if there are any charges files?

Comments do not necessarily reflect those of The Gardner News, or staff. By posting, commentators assume all liability. Please contact webmaster to report comments that infringe on copyrights, or are of a profane or libelous nature. Webmaster reserves the right to edit or remove content deemed offensive.


Speak Your Mind