SOUTH BOSTON, Mass.–A Massachusetts State Police trooper has taken an involuntary leave of absence following a bizarre incident in which his superior officers believe they spied the 34-year-old on TV catching a foul ball at Fenway Park with a baseball glove during Opening Day last Tuesday.
A full-blown investigation into the incident is already underway at the South Boston barracks, according to sources speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding the issue.
“We were just relaxing and watching the game on TV the other day at headquarters. All of a sudden the camera pans into the crowd after Youks popped a foul ball down the first-base line,” said the source. “And there’s one of our guys in maybe the fourth or fifth row near the tarp, snagging the baseball with his glove.”
The off-duty trooper was in street clothes and appeared to be at the game with his son, who on-duty officers watching the game also recognized. However, the baseball glove did not appear to be small enough to be his offspring’s.
“Yeah, we’re positive it was either an outfielder’s glove or a first baseman’s mitt,” the source says. “I don’t know, the worst thing for me would be to hear that it’s a first baseman’s mitt. To me, that’s crossing over the fine line between an incidental transgression and gross irresponsibility. A grown man bringing a glove to the park…what a [expletive] knucklehead.”
For a department that prides itself on manning its force with officers of the utmost character and dignity, the very public display at Fenway Park may ultimately spell termination if the trooper is found to be guilty.
“If it is him, it’s pretty bad timing,” says another trooper with knowledge of the incident. “He’s probably only going to get two or three years’ pay as severance, tops, if he’s dismissed over this.”
Internal investigators are in the process of obtaining multiple camera feeds from the broadcast. In the meantime, the State Police barracks has already circulated an internal memo regarding the incident, asking anyone in the department with information to step forward. Thus far, anonymous tips have centered around the possibility that the trooper may have used the glove during inter-departmental softball games.
The investigation could wind up costing the department a significant amount of money if it continues to drag out.
“No one wants to be the rat,” says one source, who requested he be called Skip. “Plus, how he got the tickets is still a little fuzzy to most of us.”
According to Skip, Staties often obtain tickets to games in the line of duty during warranted seizures, raids, foot patrols and traffic stops.
“If I had to guess, I’d say he probably got them the night before on some traffic stop on I-90 or I-93. They looked like they were goods seats, that’s for sure. He must’ve bagged the guy doing 100 (mph). Wreckless driving…pay through the nose in insurance or give up your box seats for the next night–pretty easy decision for most people.”
Skip’s partner, another veteran officer willing to discuss the incident as long as his name was withheld, questions the process the trooper may have underwent if he obtained the tickets in the line of duty.
“Any time somebody gives us free tickets, for whatever the reason may be…We’re supposed to offer them to our superior officer first.”
The fact that the off-duty trooper may have violated this unwritten code among State Police only serves to further irk fellow policemen.
“The guy obviously wasn’t broken in very well at the academy,” says Skip, who also brought up the fact that a first baseman’s mitt appeared to be used. “So I guess if he sat in the bleachers or in the right-field grandstand he would’ve brought his outfield glove?”
All of the troopers interviewed for this story seemed to agree that maintaining a sense of humor about the incident may be the only way of dealing with the unquestionably troubling behavior.
“Give him a plus one on Dewan’s!” yelled a veteran officer from the next room over.