SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 13, 2013

Our view: A choice for change in Beverly

(Continued)

The Beverly Police Department has had several high-profile problems over the past several years, including a murder-suicide involving a police officer’s son, and a police cruiser crash that killed a woman.

In another incident in September, officer Kevin Coletti was disciplined after crashing his police cruiser at more than twice the legal speed in a 30 mph zone and leaving the scene before a supervising officer arrived.

At first, Coletti told police that he swerved to avoid a dog that ran out in front his cruiser. A state police examination of the vehicle’s black box recorder, however, showed the cruiser was traveling 64 mph five seconds before it crashed into the utility pole and traveled nearly two blocks — more than the length of a football field — before coming to a stop. Coletti was not given a Breathalyzer test at the time, because, officials said, it’s not department policy, and there’s still no explanation as to why he was traveling so fast if he wasn’t trying to stop another car.

Police say Coletti has been disciplined but refuse to say what the disciplinary action was, calling it a personnel matter. Citizens deserve better accountability and more transparency than the four-sentence statement officials released on the incident.

“Sometimes, you really need to start with a fresh slate, and I think there are some factions within the department,” Scanlon said. “I think we need a strong, experienced person in charge.”

LeLacheur has an opportunity to be that person.

“Coming in from the outside and not having a bias can be a benefit,” he said. “The No. 1 thing I’m going to impress on them is integrity. That’s the backbone of law enforcement. I expect them to do the job, be honest about what you’re doing and be professional.”

That sounds like a good start.

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