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|September 27, 2011
Director of Communications
PROBATION OFFICERS ACROSS THE STATE PLAY PIVOTAL ROLE
IN ENHANCING PUBLIC SAFETY
In the past week, Probation Officers across the state have been instrumental in identifying and removing dangerous criminals off the streets as well as closing down a marijuana "grow house" and uncovering a suburban theft ring.
Suffolk Superior Court Probation Officer Kevin Sandefer recognized and identified a suspect in several recent sexual assaults based on his familiarity with the suspect's description, record, and the location of the alleged multiple assaults - mall without even viewing a photo of the offender.
Sandefer, a 13-year Probation Officer, was at home Sunday evening watching the New England Patriots game when a breaking news report appeared on the screen of multiple sexual assaults occurring in several Boston neighborhoods. After hearing the description of the rape suspect, news of the assaults, and location of the alleged crimes, Sandefer recognized the suspect's characteristics and the crime pattern. He immediately drove to the police precinct and informed officers.
"It all sounded very similar to the acts committed by an individual I had supervised on probation. He had just been released on bail for another crime so I know he was in the community. Also, the attacks happened close to where he lives. I just had a very strong hunch," Sandefer said.
Sandefer was lauded by Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis during a press conference.
Police Commissioner Ed Davis stated, "the partnership we share with Probation and the exchange of information between our agencies has had a positive impact on public safety in our city," Commissioner Davis added, "On behalf of the Boston Police Department, I would like to commend Court Probation Officer Kevin Sandefer and Assistant Chief Probation Officer William Stewart for their tremendous contribution."
Suffolk Superior Court Chief Probation Officer Pamerson Ifill said of Sandefer's efforts, "Kevin is an excellent Probation Officer and what he did is indicative of good Probation Officers who are supervising offenders who present a risk to the community. When these offenders violate conditions of their probation, they take necessary steps to collaborate with local law enforcement agencies."
In a separate incident, Assistant Chief Probation Officer William "Billy" Stewart of Boston Municipal Court (BMC)- Dorchester identified a dangerous offender-- who was on warrant status and has a history of armed assault, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon--during a NiteLite ride-along with Boston Police last week.
Boston Police, accompanied by Stewart, responded to an "officers need assistance" call regarding a street brawl involving four men. While three of the men identified themselves, the fourth provided a false name. Stewart, one of the key architects of the 21-year NiteLite Program, spoke with the individual and was able to ascertain his name and true identity.
Stewart said of the NiteLite initiative, "It was a matter of being in the right spot to help the police. The partnership works and is incredibly valuable. NiteLite still works after all of these years."
NiteLite is a program which pairs Probation Officers with the Police during home visits and night time community supervision.
"Our court has a history of being pro-active. Our partnership with the Boston Police Department has been very successful and continues to serve as an example of community supervision and policing," said Bernard Fitzgerald, Chief Probation Officer of the Boston Municipal Court-Dorchester.
In another scenario, Worcester Superior Court Probation Officer Joseph Del Negro and Lynn Clifford, Probation Officer in Charge at the Fitchburg Community Corrections Center, discovered an offender's marijuana "grow house" in his Fitchburg home during an unannounced visit.
Del Negro together with Clifford, visited the offender's home when he failed to show up at the center, missed his drug test, and community service. Upon entering the offender's home, Del Negro noticed the pungent aroma of marijuana immediately, found money exposed, and a dried marijuana branch on a shelf.
He and Clifford instructed the offender to show them where the rest of the marijuana was located. The offender led them to several rooms where they viewed equipment to cultivate the marijuana including heat lamps, fertilizer, soil, a dozen large marijuana plants, and a "kiddie" pool filled with an herbal liquid used to grow the drug. Mason jars, labeled with dates and filled with marijuana, along with an aquarium filled with marijuana buds were also discovered.
"What started off as a routine visit to verbally admonish an offender for non-compliance turned into a different matter. We contacted local police and they placed him under arrest," said Del Negro.
Worcester Superior Court Chief Probation Officer Thomas Turco said of Del Negro's work, "That's what we do. We are very pro-active in the field and average more than 100 hours a week in the community which is comprised of 60 cities and towns."
Across the state, Brockton District Court Probation Officer Robert Arrighi, together with Bridgewater Police, made an unannounced visit to an offender's home where they discovered stolen booty - including jewelry, prescription drugs, hand power tools, televisions, and video gaming systems - which they discovered was linked to a rash of home and car break-ins.
"Under the leadership of Chief Mike Branch, we are very pro-active and maintain strong inter-agency ties with local law enforcement with the goal of reducing crime and protecting the community. We get out in the neighborhoods and into the homes of offenders. We want them to know that we are watching," said Arrighi.
"This discovery of the items and arrest proves that the partnership between police and probation not only works in major cities, but is also successful in smaller communities and towns," said Acting Chief Probation Officer Michael Branch of the Brockton District Court.
Bridgewater Police Department Lieutenant Thomas Schlatz lauded the partnership between his department and Brockton Probation . Lt. Schlatz also credits the recent home visit with Probation Officer Arrighi as the catalyst for solving the rash of car and house burglaries that have occurred over the past two years.
"We have been very receptive to working with Probation and have found it to be very helpful. It has allowed for an exchange of very useful information and our department has benefited from this relationship from day one," said Schlatz.
Schlatz added, "Over the years, we have had a large amount of car and house break-ins. But this discovery on the ride-along helped us solve the case and the number of break-ins have been drastically reduced."