By: Tom Duggan – June, 2011
Lawrence City Councilor Mark LaPlante (District F) has been one of the more outspoken supporters of the Lawrence police. Last month LaPlante went on two police ride-alongs with Lawrence Police and it’s an experience he says all members of the city council could benefit from.
“We are on the council making policy and budget decisions that affect the police and I’ll tell you that going out and seeing first hand what these guys go through and what they deal with makes a big difference. I encourage my fellow councilors to do this,” he said.
LaPlante did this once before in 2010 when he shadowed a Lawrence Police officer who was in charge of supervising the city’s nightclubs. “We went from establishment to establishment to make sure things were on the up and up. It was interesting to see how people interacted with the police in the craziness of the night club scene.”
“The first night I went out this time,” Laplante continued, “Monday night I had a chance to go to the police station and get a good first hand look at the facility and what our officers are dealing with in there. I can tell you that the building is in complete disrepair. The men and women who protect us every day deserve better. I also think it hampers their job somewhat, the building really needs help, and it’s unacceptable. I also think they would be able to do a better job if they were in a better building.”
The second night Laplante went out riding with Lawrence police was a very busy night. The Valley Patriot followed LaPlante as the officer he was riding with, Sgt. Quaglietta was rushing from call to call.
“I didn’t see any violence the nights I was out, there were a lot noise issues, traffic incidents, etc., but no I didn’t see any violence as busy as the officers were it was mostly quality of life issues they dealt with,” LaPlante said.
“I think it’s very important for people to know that we got a lot of noise complaints that night,” LaPlante said. “We at the council level hear a lot of stories about how the police don’t respond to noise complaints. But, I can tell you they do, and it was a significant number of calls we got that night. The officer I was with actually wrote a ticket for a violation of the noise ordinance.”
LaPlante sent a letter to his colleagues on the City Council urging them to see for themselves and do a ride-along with the Lawrence Police.
“If they know 1st hand what these officers are going through on the streets they can better serve the people we represent by seeing who the people are that the officers are up against, what are the real challenges they are facing that we can help with.”
“Education is the key to understanding and knowing the challenges they face and not just personnel-wise but outdated or inadequate equipment like laptops in cruisers, the conditions of our cruisers, and the obvious condition of the police station. Also, I think it’s important to witness how the officers interact and diffuse situations that could very easily be ramped up and turn much more violent, if not deadly.”
“The guys I saw when I went out were very cool under pressure, and were very fair in how they dealt with our citizens. I want them to know that I am very proud that we have such professional officers on the streets of Lawrence.”