|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
||For More Information, Contact:
|September 18, 2006
||Coria Holland, Director of Communications
||617-727-5300, ext. 258
BEDFORD DISTRICT PROBATION WARRANT
APPREHENSION TEAM’S PRESENCE IS FELT
IN THE COMMUNITY
officers enter offender's home.
Bedford District Court Probation Warrant Appprehension
Team check warrant list.
Officer Dennis Halls talks to probationer taken into custody
at the New Bedford Police Department.
Officer Vincent Godwin, right, and New Bedford
Police Officer at offender's door.
during warrant sweep.
Bedford District Court Warrant Apprehension Team members,
left to right, Donald Chausse, Dave Branco, Dennis Halls
and Vincent Godwin.
Assistant Chief Probation Officer Clinton Martin not shown.
Members of New Bedford District Probation's
Warrant Apprehension team set out on a sweep of the neighborhood
recently where they apprehended several absconders and put offenders
on notice that probation would not tolerate ignored court orders.
"They're arresting people," yelled
a young boy around 12 years old who watched a police cruiser
drive by with two Probation Officers and a police officer in
During the recent sweep, which targeted 20 probationers,
neighborhood residents gathered to watch as probation officers
and police paid visits to the homes of offenders who had outstanding
warrants. One probationer, a woman in her early 20's, was
found at home, a small apartment decorated with velvet paintings
of Elvis Presley on the wall and occupied by 10 to 15 family
members. An elderly gentleman, standing in front of a worn-out
green sofa, answered the door and allowed the two probation officers
and police into the home as a second police cruiser pulled up
outside to assist. The woman had failed to pay restitution for
a sprinkler system she broke while serving time in the Dartmouth
House of Correction.
As the woman was led out to the police cruiser,
a group of about 15 neighbors and passers-by had gathered outside
her home and watched as she was taken into custody. At the police
station, while being booked she cursed the probation officers
during the one phone call she was allowed to make to family.
At another home, the family members of an offender
explained to Probation Officers and police that the young man
they are looking for is at work. The young man, unaware that
probation and police were nearby, emerged from a home, and ran
into the Probation Officers and was promptly arrested by police.
Each week, the five-member Warrant Apprehension
Team from New Bedford District Court go out to find offenders
who did not show up at court and have warrants issued against
them. Typically, the Warrant Apprehension Team and police arrest
four to five absconders each week.
"The beauty of going out with the police
is that we very often help to de-escalate the problem," said
Probation Officer Dave Branco.
"They know us and we know them," added
Probation Officer Vincent Godwin.
Godwin said, "There are 90,000 people in
New Bedford. We have the big problems that big cities have."
The Probation team includes First Assistant Chief
Probation Officer and New Bedford native Clint Martin, two other
New Bedford natives and Probation Officers Branco and Donald
Chausse. Godwin, who originally hails from Washington, D.C. and
Dennis Halls, formerly of San Antonio, Texas, have strong ties
to the community.
On occasion, the team goes out with other law
enforcement officers on the sweeps. For instance, they may collaborate
with the New Bedford Police Gang Unit to track down gang-affiliated
young people who have warrants.
"The advantage of working with Probation
is that they do all of the research. They know the people and
their personal history. They know their hang-outs" said
New Bedford Police Officer Michael Michaelski.
Armed with a list of offenders with outstanding
warrants, Probation Officers and police meet at the New Bedford
Police Station where they separate into teams: two Probation
Officers and one police officer per police cruiser. Both cruisers
travel to the same address where, based on previous experience,
they expect to encounter an offender who has a history of violence.
The team begins their sweep in one of the three sections of the
city, a port metropolis which is 13.7 miles long and 7.5 miles
wide, and then fan out to the other areas: the West End, the
South End, and North End neighborhoods of New Bedford.
"We start pulling warrants earlier in the
week at the court and then get the most up to date warrants just
before the court closes on the day we plan to go out on the sweep," said
During sweeps, the team often catches offenders
off-guard. A probationer, whose terms of probation prohibit him
from drinking, is spotted entering Franando's Sports Bar
on County Street. Godwin enters the bar and finds the man who
fails at his attempt to hide behind another patron. Godwin instructs
the man to come outside.
"Probation is not for you. I'll have
to violate you if you've been drinking," Godwin said
admonishing the man in his 40's. The offender assures Godwin
that he did not plan to drink but had only stopped to use the
bar's bathroom. Godwin orders the man to report to the
court the next day where he plans to have the man tested for
Later in the evening a former probationer and his
wife, pushing a baby carriage, stroll by. "He's stayed
out of trouble for three years now," the woman assures
the Probation Officers.