SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 12, 2012

Judge denies request to get cop treatment

BEVERLY — Frantic 911 tapes recorded the night of a domestic disturbance in which a shot was fired and police uncovered a large cache of weapons in a North Beverly home led a judge to reject new terms for a Manchester-by-the-Sea police sergeant being held without bail.

In Salem Superior Court yesterday, Superior Court Judge John Lu denied a bail review request by Danvers attorney Ronald Ranta to have John H. “Jay” Swallow placed in a residential alcohol treatment facility rather than having him locked up 23 hours a day. Swallow has been sequestered in the jail’s infirmary because he is a police officer and must be kept away from the jail’s population out of concern for his safety.

“Are there any conditions of release that would satisfy the public?” Ranta asked.

Swallow has pleaded not guilty in Salem District Court to charges of assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, witness intimidation, and three firearms security violations. At the end of October, a judge ordered Swallow held without bail for 90 days. He has since been suspended from his job and is on unpaid leave.

Ranta questioned an additional charge brought by prosecutors in the weeks after the case of carrying a firearm while intoxicated.

“One of the things I don’t like to do is kick the can down the road without a resolution,” said Lu, who said the 911 calls were persuasive. “It’s clear to the court there appears to be ... a very troubling and serious alcohol issue that is not being addressed.”

Without knowledge of a program or its parameters and security, Lu denied the request.

On the dramatic tape played in court, a neighbor alleges that Swallow, 54, was drunk the night of the incident, around midnight on Friday, Oct. 26; that he threatened to shoot a dog; and that there were a lot of weapons in the house. The neighbor told police that Swallow’s wife was at her house.

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