WOONSOCKET – One city councilor is raising questions about a recent incident in which the Millville chief of police was stopped on Cass Avenue for speeding and did not receive a ticket.
Councilor John Ward referred to the Sept. 11 traffic stop of Millville Police Chief Ronald Landry, who was allegedly speeding in Woonsocket while returning from working a police detail at Gillette Stadium. Ward said he was troubled to learn Landry did not receive a ticket despite allegedly going 60 miles per hour in a 25 mile-per-hour zone.
“I was troubled when I read the article about the actions or the response of the chief who was stopped by an officer and disturbed that the response to him was multiple apologies and no citation,” he said, pointing out the report also describes Landry running a red light immediately following the stop.
Ward did not use names in his comments, but a police report by Patrol Officer Logan Courtemanche details the incident. Courtemanche wrote that the former Woonsocket officer swore at him and refused to roll down his rear windows when he pulled him over on Cass Avenue, making reference to the 25 years he worked for the city. The patrol officer said he apologized twice to Landry for the inconvenience and allowed him to leave after confirming his information.
Ward said the issue raises questions about the “professional courtesy” sometimes afforded between police officers and asked if the outcome would have been different if Landry had not been a police officer. During a City Council meeting on Monday, he questioned Public Safety Director Eugene Jalette about how officers are trained to respond when someone tries to use their identity to get out of a penalty.
“Personally, I would say any violation requires a ticket, and 15 percent added the moment somebody says ‘do you know who I am,’” Ward said.
Jalette said officers are trained to use their discretion. Some officers might choose to tolerate something, he said, that other officers don’t.
“There’s no standard,” he said.
The answer was not satisfactory for Ward, who expressed concern that “professional courtesy” could be extended to firefighters or certain elected officials. He brought up an example of a time he received a $350 ticket for a clear violation and said he would expect anyone driving 30 miles per hour over the speed limit to receive a ticket.
“It’s not called discretion at some point. It becomes prejudice. It becomes many things,” he said.
Landry is facing an inquiry over the incident in Millville, where he has served as police chief since 2007. Last Monday, he and his lawyer, Ernest Horn, met with the Board of Selectmen in closed session to discuss the traffic stop. According to Horn, the board has not yet taken any action over the incident.
Landry also faced questions about his behavior to a fellow cop in 2020, when Uxbridge police detained him during an argument at a car dealership. According to police, Landry became argumentative and hostile when police tried to approach him and had to be placed in a police cruiser until he calmed down.