Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Crimefighting tip #1: Lock the jail door

Remember the ongoing gag on the Andy Griffith Show, where they would leave the door to the lockup open so Otis the town drunk could let himself in to sober up? Not only do the Leominster police remember it, they practice it.

Last weekend a prisoner escaped his holding cell because the officer who threw him in the clink left the door unlocked! The Telegram and Gazette provides the details:

LEOMINSTER-- A Wilmington woman called police Sunday afternoon saying her brother had just telephoned to tell her he had escaped from the lockup at Leominster police headquarters.

The dispatcher who took the call apparently didn't believe her and told her the bail for her brother was still $540, according to police reports.

But a subsequent check of the cell block proved that Joseph Kweedor, 23, of 158 Middle St., had indeed escaped.

That's fantastic! The guy escapes, his sister calls the cops to tell them that he's escaped (pretty tough when your sister tries to turn you in) , and they tell her to pay $540 or take a hike.

Officer Jerome Moore wrote in his report on the case that he had gone to Mr. Kweedor's cell at 2 p.m. Sunday to let him make a telephone call. He returned him to the cell after the call was made, he wrote.

"It is apparent the door did not close and lock," he wrote. "Mr. Kweedor opened the door and exited the lockup via an open window (minus the screen) and lowered himself to the ground."

When police determined almost two hours later that Mr. Kweedor had left, officers searched the area of the station and began calling members of Mr. Kweedor's family.

"It is apparent the door did not close and lock" should probably be more correctly reported as "It is apparent that I did not close and lock the door." But who wants to take responsibility for letting a violent suspect escape when you can blame the door?

And it took them two hours to realize that he was gone? Did the guy rig up a decoy like escapees from Alcatraz? And now, the suspect is in more trouble.
He was ordered held on $7,500 cash bail in connection with the charges Saturday, and $100 cash bail was set on a single count of escape from a municipal lockup.
Is it really fair to charge someone with "escape from a municipal lockup" when he was not, in fact, locked up?

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