Officer Boudreault banned from Tolman, says superintendent

Officer Boudreault banned from Tolman, says superintendent

Mayor Donald Grebien, left, listens to a local mother's concerns after police used pepper spray on students outside Tolman High School last Thursday. (Valley Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)
Officials will revisit SROs in schools, says DiCenso

PAWTUCKET - Officer Jared Boudreault may not return to Tolman High School after his controversial body slam of a student there last week, said Supt. Patti DiCenso.

Moreover, DiCenso said school officials will revisit their partnership with the city on school resource officers generally in the wake of Boudreault's takedown of a 14-year-old Tolman student last Wednesday and a subsequent protest a day later that led to police pepper-spraying dozens of students and arresting several of them.

Tolman students claimed that SRO Boudreault had a history of "acting tough" with them, swearing at them on occasion and shoving one student up against a locker for taking a piece of pizza out of the cafeteria. He allegedly released the student after a staff member said the student was allowed to have the pizza.

DiCenso and Tolman Principal Chris Savastano said they'd never heard a complaint about Boudreault in the past, but DiCenso said that doesn't mean the claims from students weren't valid. The claim about the pizza incident was very specific, she said, leading her to believe that it was true.

Senior students David Garcia and Montrell Sivels told The Breeze there were many issues with Boudreault. They said students were upset after he was appointed to the position last year because he was much more combative than a previous officer. They said they did not see the latest incident involving Boudreault as having anything do with race.

Boudreault declined to discuss the incident when reached at the police station.

Sivels and Garcia told The Breeze they had helped organize a protest before school last Thursday after students expressed outrage over what they called Boudreault's unnecessary "body slam" of a student from behind. They said they were looking for justice in a peaceful way, but the incident spun out of control after someone pulled a fire alarm.

Here's the video of last Wednesday's incident.

State police investigators were back in Pawtucket on Monday as they continued to sort out the facts of the incidents.

DiCenso said it did not occur to her last year to ask police if Boudreault would make a good fit at Tolman because she assumed he must be the best person for the job.

"Moving forward we will be having those conversations," she said.

DiCenso said she asked Chief Paul King about why Boudreault was placed at Tolman after the officer was investigated in a separate incident of alleged excessive force before he became SRO last year, and was told that Boudreault "was exonerated" in that incident. DiCenso and Savastano weren't aware of that past incident until students started talking about it last Thursday. They then saw a report on the incident on valleybreeze.com. In a video, Boudreault was seen hitting a suspect with a baton and then pepper-spraying him in the face after he appeared to be subdued.

Boudreault was also one of two officers involved in the arrest of a city man two years ago that led to a lawsuit against the city. The resident claims in his pending suit that he was illegally arrested for possessing a gun even though he was allowed to carry it on his property.

Boudreault last week slammed 14-year-old Tyler Deburgo to the floor at Tolman. The incident involving Tyler and his older brother, 17-year-old Ivander, was caught on video and prompted a protest the next day outside the school. Both students were suspended, said DiCenso - Ivander for five days for disorderly conduct and assault, and Tyler for three days for starting it. She emphasized that the students were suspended for causing disruption and creating a potential safety risk, violations of school rules.

The Breeze learned that Boudreault was in the middle of the protest last Thursday, an assignment that students said helped ramp up tensions with police.

DiCenso and Savastano confirmed that Boudreault was one of the officers who arrested students. DiCenso said she is concerned about the decision to bring him back to the school and understands why students were upset.

"The reason they were protesting was because of what happened at the school and I would think that person wouldn't be given that assignment," she said. "I did express my concerns to the mayor and when we met with the students Thursday afternoon. From my perspective, the students were energized and upset about this particular person, so therefore it would have probably been in the best interest not to have him there when they were protesting."

Officials did not respond to a request for comment on why Boudreault was assigned to control the crowd. Savastano said he didn't view Boudreault's presence as creating a worse situation with students, saying "he just kind of blended in" with other officers.

DiCenso said she assured students that Boudreault will not be returning to Tolman after they expressed concerns.

"He is not here and we have no plans to bring him back," she said.

As for the idea of keeping SROs in the schools, "we're going to revisit what we need and don't need," said DiCenso. She said if the SRO program continues, she will meet with city officials and police and be "assured that it's the right fit" before officers are placed in schools.

The current agreement between the city and schools calls for six SROs total in the high schools and junior high schools, with the Pawtucket School Department only paying $50,000 toward all six. The idea is that if officers build relationships with students in schools, the students will be more open about talking to them and more issues out on the street will be avoided.

Savastano said he still sees a lot of value in the SRO program. He said he had never heard a negative comment about Boudreault. He called the SROs an "invaluable resource" and said they play a "critical role" in the prevention of incidents as "the eyes and ears" in the community.

As for the actions of Boudreault seen on the video, Savastano said it's difficult to judge whether the officer did something wrong. Having a brother who is a police detective, he knows that situations are not always how they appear. He said he was happy no one got seriously hurt.

Police said they arrested 10 people, eight juveniles and two adults during last week's fracas. Most were arrested after confronting police in the parking lot of Granite City, allegedly spitting at and threatening officers after a car window was smashed. A student who pulled the fire alarm that sent everyone outside was also arrested.

Mayor Donald Grebien and Public Safety Director Tony Pires told Sivels and Garcia that there would be an investigation of what happened between Boudreault and students.

"We're going to complete a thorough investigation and stay in contact with the students as this develops," said Pires. "We owe it to them."

A release from police stated that officers initially responded to the area of Tolman to "maintain order" during last Thursday's protest. A student later pulled the alarm, and the rally soon got out of control.

A small delegation of students was invited into City Hall to discuss the incident caught on video, while about 200 students congregated outside.

A group of these students started to become disorderly and one smashed the window of a vehicle parked on the street, said police, and was apprehended. As the group migrated to Granite City, some students "were spitting at and threatening police officers, and interfering with the arrests of other juveniles," said police. "At one point an officer discharged pepper spray at several individuals."

In their account, police said it was around 2:30 p.m. last Wednesday when Boudreault saw Tyler Deburgo walking down the hallway screaming obscenities about what he was going to do to another student. A school department employee then told the officer that the teen was trying to fight another student.

The officer escorted Deburgo into the office to investigate the incident. Deburgo continued to yell obscenities while the officer tried to speak to him, states the release. The teen's behavior escalated to the point where he started punching a bench. He ignored the officer's commands to stop, and then started punching the office wall. The officer then advised the juvenile he under arrest for disorderly conduct.

While the officer was attempting to take Tyler into custody, Ivander entered the office and "began to interfere with the officer, and then started to push the officer," said police.

Students gathered outside the office and were trying to get in the office, they said. Teachers and custodians were trying to move students back from the door, and at one point held the door closed to prevent students from rushing into the office. Another school employee, who witnessed the events unfolding, put out a call for more personnel to respond.

Police said the two teens then attacked Boudreault. They said Ivander Deburgo struck Boudreault in the face. Boudreault then engaged with both of them, managing to get Ivander on the ground. He was attempting to handcuff Ivander when Tyler started to approach the officer "from behind," said police.

"The officer saw Tyler approaching him, grabbed him and "used a takedown on" him, said police in a statement.

Tolman High School senior Montrell Sivels, left, demonstrates how a school resource officer took a student to the ground last Wednesday. Sivels and fellow senior David Garcia, right, organized what they intended to be a peaceful protest about the incident on Thursday before school. The incident escalated and Pawtucket police ended up arresting 10 people and using pepper-spray on a large crowd of students. Behind Garcia and Sivels, Chief of Police Paul King speaks with a concerned resident.

Comments

Superintendent of Schools Patti DiCenso, Mayor Grebien and more importantly Tony Pires has ZERO idea what happens in the city schools especially what goes on in and around Tolman High School!! How about this all three actually go into or around school at arrival/dismissal and lets see them control those ANIMALS!! Its much easier to sit behind a desk and "Monday Morning Quarterback" what happens, instead of listening to these Juvenile Punks and giving them a voice, how about earning what your get its called RESPECT. Mayor Grebien,Pires and DiCenso how about backing your POLICE DEPARTMENT just once!! Im sick and tired of hearing how bad the City & Police Department is when its ALWAYS from a criminal.
What happens when the State Police Investigation shows nothing? what shall we "OWE" this children then? I guess another protest..smashed windows..disruption of a local business..blocking city streets? What doesn't ANY city official stand up to these children and tell them the truth instead of the usual political B.S. Superintendent PLEASE take ALL the officers out of the school...PLEASE...but when the you know when the shit hits the fan don't call the Police Department because maybe your "Law Abiding Students" won't like the Officers responding instead they should call your office and YOU can handle it!! Of course this message will land on deaf ears until you or the "higher ups" need the Department I beg that when you call for help the department hangs up on you!! If you don't like what is happening DO IT YOURSELF!!

It would be a serious mistake, in my opinion, to let the excellent work that SRO do every day get lost due to this incident. There are rarely reports about the situations that are defused. Absolutely, an investigation is warranted, but the SRO program should not be the scapegoat.

The kids knew when the SRO was in and not in on a particular day. On the days they knew he wasn't in, the school was chaotic!!!! Ask any kid in that school! Take the SRO's out of the school and let it be survival of the fittest

The pawtucket police work day in and day out to protect and serve our community. In this case our school. Please bring back our hard working SRO officer.

First, Ethan Shorey hates Tolman are reports mistruths and heresay. Why don't we investigatet the facts first before you report these stories and ast for evidence? No, you jump to conclusions and publish garbage that even our editor must contradict.
Second, where is the beginning of this video showing the SRO getting attacked on both sides? How about the mob scene outside the office where the video was filmed. How safe would you feel being in that enviroment Dicenso? Stop playing politics and get your facts straight. No SRO's in school and watch what kind of school problems you will have.
Third, this whole problem stems from the lack of parenting on an industrial scale. We are feeding this lack of responsibility by give these criminals a voice. Now that the won our attention they will now think it is ok to attack the police and do whatevery they what. What consequence was given to the "protestors" for skipping school and voicing their obinion on school time? ZERO. My child went to class and studied hard. I respect every persons' right to protest and let their voice be heard, but not at the expense of a child's education. Again, no parenting skills displayed at all.
Lastly, how wonderful the two boys who assaulted the police officer were on TV to explain their injuries. Who about the injuries to the police officer? NEVER MENTIONED? Is he alright or do they care? Attacking the polic from behind is acceptable I guess according to ETHAN SHOREY. I call for the Breeze to really investigate the facts and put the real story on the front page and not this garbage. ETHAN's story makes me sick.

Shame on you Superintendent of Schools Patti DiCenso and MayorGrebien!of course these defiant teenagers do not want the SRO in the school,it stops them from doing whatever they want. Why are you not talking to the faculty? They seem to all support police presence in pawtucket school system. Why are you listening to the attendees of tolman who already have criminal backgrounds and the parents of them and not the upstanding citizens of rhode island and the ones who actually saw what happened? Why is officer Boudreault being criticized for doing his job? Tolman will be on the news one day for a school shooting or something simular and people are going to want to know what you did to try and prevent it. Taking the SRO out of the school is the opposite of what should be happening here! If you remove officer Boudreault from tolman you are showing these offenders that they can do whatever they want and get away with it, therefore proving you are weak to propaganda in our society. again, shame on you for supporting the defiance of authority!

I find it sad that everyone seems to think they know everything based on what the media is reporting. I am referring to the story of officer boudreault being "investigated" last year. I am sure he was, as was the other 2. It appears based on my interpretation of the story that they were fighting with a man that was fighting with and he did not want to be arrested. If that person is fighting with the police, what does the public think is going is to happen?

I see the media is ignoring the good that the pawtucket police do, especially the sro's. I encourage everyone to look at their facebook page you'll see one enjoying himself dancing at a dance with the kids, does that get reported on, NO!!!!

Why do we need to see just the negative?

Police in general have a tough job to do, and when you have politicians getting in the way it just makes that much harder. Ms dicenso wants to do x,y,z. I have yet to hear anything from the school committee yet? We have hear from all of the mayors and councilor cano (why see even spoke is behind me) shool committee all we hear is crickets.

I think that its time we examine the top school administrators salaries too. why does the superintendant make more than the Govenor? 150K! their are others in the school dept making base salary of more than 100k, where is the outrage. They are getting armed safety and security at all 3 high schools and all jr high schools for only 50k, that is the biggest deal around. It teaches kids to trust in the police, they are the first responder in a crisis, mediator, social worker, etc.

Leave officer boudreault's future to the police chief, not the school's chief!!!

The press and the superintendent are blaming the police officer for what they perceive to be excessive use of force against a student at Tolman High School. Has anyone addressed the fact that several of the teachers and administrators were present when all this was happening and had to come to the aid of the officer. Does it matter that they have all given statements to the police about what they saw, all supporting the actions of the officer. Has anyone addressed the fact that the superintendent has told the teachers not to make any statements to the police following the release of this video? Is she trying to suppress the truth about what happened since there were so many teachers and staff that witnessed what happened? Now a video surfaces that was obviously started late in the interaction between the officer and the students and now the superintendent is making statements to the press about the officer not returning to the school. All the teachers know that Tolman High School has turned into a zoo. If the officer was not present, there would be complete chaos. I remember the fights after school, day in and day out. That has dropped significantly since the officers have been in the school. The police department signed an agreement with the school department several years ago in which the school department should pay for 1/2 of the cost of the officers in the school. At a rate of pay of about $60,000 a year per officer, that comes to $360,000 per year for all 6 officers. The school department is only paying $50,000 a year. Where is the rest of the money going and why does the police department continue to pay the lion's share? The administrators are told that they don't want students arrested or suspended. Where does that leave us for any type of solution. I say take the police officers out of all the schools and if there is a disturbance within any of the schools, have the superintendent personally handle each and every one of them. She obviously has more book knowledge than common sense. She needs to go. If you remove the officer from the school, you have empowered these criminals and there is no going back from here.

Do our school committee members still think our superintendent is the "best in the state" after her embarrassing actions towards our law enforcement personnel of the city?

What do you expect from a child ( using that term because they act like it)that has been brought up to hate police because they may have arrested a family member for breaking the law. Blame the parents ( or whatever you call the 2 people that made them )for not having the skills to raise themselves never mind a child. If I was the chief of police I would remove the officer and tell the school department to go and hire a security FORCE because that's what you need for these thugs and don't call us when it get tragically out of control. Few week in the Marines would straighten that s--t out.