Chelsea Police December 2020 Report and Work Session Follow Up
By Doug Marrin
Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth submitted his department’s report for December 2020 to the Chelsea City Council at its January 19, 2021, meeting. After summarizing the information, Chief Toth gave a brief follow up to the work session held the week before.
Chief Toth reported that officers responded to 170 calls for service and policed ten traffic crashes. Other notable incidents included three assaults, one of which was a felonious assault, four larceny complaints, and two frauds.
Of the 50 cases CPD saw in December, 26 are under investigation. Three are under review by the prosecutor. Three cases are waiting on lab analysis. Eighteen cases have been resolved through warrants, arrests, denial, or exceptional clearance.
The 170 calls for service in December 2020 was down 38.8% from the year before. December 2019 saw 278 calls for service. The sharp downward trend is in line with what the department has experienced since the pandemic lockdown last March.
Total police calls for 2020 were 2,744, which is down from the prior year’s calls of 3,934 for a 30.4% decrease in calls for service.
Last week, at a work session to look at policing practices, two incidents were brought up in question to Chief Toth. One incident involved trespassing teens where officers allegedly put them in handcuffs. The other incident was officers allegedly pulling their weapons on juveniles who had broken into a place.
“At the work session on Monday, two incidents were brought up, and I tracked those down,” Chief Toth told the Council. He described both incidents and his follow-up.
“One incident happened in February of 2020 at the fairgrounds. Juveniles hopped the fence, got into a building illegally, and officers went there. I talked to all the officers, looked at the report, and no weapons were ever pulled on those individuals in that case.”
Chief Toth also contacted the parents for their input.
“The other one is a trespassing at the golf course. What happened in that case, people from the Coney Island called about kids hopping the fence and getting on the golf course. The golf course was not open. They were carrying golf clubs, and I think, fishing rods. I tracked those young folks down. No one was handcuffed. I got a hold of their parents and had them respond.”
The Police Chief also clarified with the Council that although nobody was handcuffed, “the officers had the right to handcuff if necessary at the break-in scene and also the trespassing scene. They had the right and legal justification to do that.”
Chief Toth then emphasized his commitment to equity and human rights with the appeal to keep him informed of problems.
“So back in 2012, we had a proclamation about the position on equity and human rights that I signed. And, you know, if someone's being treated incorrectly, whatever they look like, whatever their race is, it doesn't matter. It's unacceptable, and I need to know about it. I can't fix something that I don't know about.”
Councilmember Cheri Albertson asked Chief Toth, “So, Chief officers are responding to a call, and it turns out that officers will have to draw their weapons. Other than in the form of a police report that will be written and submitted regarding that given incident, is there any other tracking of when officers end up having to draw their weapons?”
Chief Toth answered, “It’s a Use of Force Report that we have. It would depend on the circumstances. But anytime there's a use of force, and we will do a Use of Force Report even when we have to shoot a deer or other injured animal, sometimes raccoons, it doesn't matter. We'll do a report for that also.”
He explained that the reports go through a review process, with himself being the final review.
Referring back to the work session, Mayor Johnson said, “I think that circles back to why we started with the policies. Very clearly, first, we wanted counsel all to understand what the procedures were, whether any procedures needed to be changed and how the officers interact with those policies and the different reporting mechanisms.”
“Those were certainly things that the Chief has reiterated tonight, but that were asked this summer,” concluded Mayor Johnson. “It was really important for Council to really understand what policies are being used and whether Counsel thought there was need for improvements on those.”
Chief Toth’s entire report can be found in the City Council packet posted on the City’s website and the audio of the council meeting.