Friday, October 27, 2006
Police question man loitering by schools
An alert preschool teacher and immediate police response may have averted a serious problem on October 19. Barely a week after the Carlisle School had gone through an emergency lockdown procedure drill, a Red Balloon teacher noticed an unknown adult man, who had been sitting on a granite bench outside the school, get up and go inside the First Religious Society building on the corner of Church and School Streets, where the Red Balloon is located. She stopped the man and asked if she could do anything for him. He told her he was looking for day care. The man was caucasian, a little under average height, with a pock-marked face and goatee. He got in his car and left; she called the police.
As a result of that call, the 33-year-old Shrewsbury man was located and questioned. When Inspector Barnes of the Carlisle Police was asked if the man had contacts with any school child either at the preschool or the public school up the street, Barnes said, "None whatsoever."
A contradictory story
The man had moved his car, a black Saturn, and was seated in it in front of the entrance to the Carlisle Public School parking lot when Officers Steve Mack and Kevin Cardonne and Inspector Barnes arrived. According to Police Chief John Sullivan, he told the officers that he was moving to Carlisle and was at the school because he wanted to check out the school and the kids in town. He subsequently admitted he was not moving to Carlisle, but stated he had a child and was checking out daycare centers.
Police backtracked his license plate numbers and found no record of offenses related to children. However, there was a recent report of having been found in a daycare center in Worcester handing out pizza coupons to children. In neither Carlisle nor Worcester did the man commit any act that would justify holding him. In Carlisle, he sat on a bench and walked into a church and then parked outside the school. In Worcester he was in a public place and doing nothing illegal. There were no pending charges on his state record. The officers at the scene, joined at this point by Lieutenant Crowe, did the only thing they could do: they let him go.
Sullivan contacted the school at once to inform them of the incident. There, administrators called a meeting of the school emergency team about 1 p.m. The team decided to inform parents about the incident and sent an e-mail to student's homes that day. The e-mail described the man and his vehicle, and gave concrete advice on what either parent or child could do in case of a future sighting or contact. (See Carlisle School responds to suspicious person threat)
"We think the school does a good job; it really takes it seriously," said Sullivan. "We went into this procedure . . . almost as if something did happen." He had praise for the school's prompt response to the police alert and felt staff training at the school was helpful in preparing teachers to confront suspicious persons. He also put in a final word for luck, as well as training: "It's just good someone called us."
Police follow up
Carlisle Police immediately notified surrounding towns, posted the incident on the NEMLEC (Northeast Massachusetts Legal Enforcement Collaborative) website and on the New England State Police Network. Other schools and daycare facilities in Carlisle were also notified.The next step, according to Sullivan, will be a BOLO, or "be-on-the-lookout-for" notice to surrounding towns. Sullivan feels the emergency training has helped build a strong, cooperative team response to this kind of community threat, one that will work to our advantage in any future emergency.
Anyone with further questions may call the police at their non-emergency number, 1-978-369-1155.
© 2006 The