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
Francis explains police department’s arrest policy