By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Residents who spotted a Leominster police car in Gloucester Wednesday morning were scratching their heads, recognizing that city sits roughly 70 miles west of America’s Oldest Seaport.
Gloucester police, meanwhile, tracked down and secured the vehicle for their fellow colleagues in blue.
The vehicle, as it turned out, was not on extended patrol — and it wasn’t stolen. Leominster police said they will not charge the Essex man who had driven the vehicle home without permission, from a Boylston police academy training session Tuesday night, then headed into Gloucester with it on Wednesday.
Leominster Police Lt. Michael Goldman said the fiasco was a “misunderstanding.” But, the 54-year-old Essex man, who was attending the academy under a sponsorship deal with Leominster police, was ousted from the academy because of the incident, he admitted.
“We had an auxiliary police candidate who was using the vehicle for the academy in West Boylston who misunderstood that he was not supposed to take it home to Gloucester,” Goldman said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
According to reports, the Leominster Police Department had sponsored the Essex man and former Leominster resident, who is not being named because he was not charged, to attend the reserve/intermittent recruit officers course operated through the Boylston Police Academy, according to Goldman. Part of that sponsorship included the department lending the man a marked cruiser to use on academy grounds.
That last bit, is what the man told police he had misunderstood when he drove the vehicle up Route 128 after classes Tuesday night.
Leominster police received reports of people sighting their marked cruiser heading north on Route 128 Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday morning, their department had used a global positioning system installed in the vehicle to pinpoint its approximate location in Gloucester.
Goldman called Gloucester police to ask the favor.
“He advised us that there was a marked Leominster PD cruiser somewhere in the area of Dory Road,” Gloucester police, who tracked down the vehicle, wrote in the report.
Gloucester police stopped the Essex man driving the cruiser near Blackburn Circle at about 9 a.m. and drove the vehicle back to Gloucester police headquarters for “safe keeping,” according to their report.
Gloucester police recovering the vehicle found a badge in the front seat of the vehicle marked “NWC Drug Task Force — Private Detective — P604” and confiscated the badge.
Two Leominster officers ventured over to the Gloucester Police Station to retrieve their vehicle just before 11 a.m.
Had the Essex man completed the police course, he could have applied to part-time and reserve police officer jobs statewide, according to Goldman. But, the Essex man will not return to the academy with a Leominster sponsorship, Goldman said.
”We clearly feel that he should not have misunderstood and will not continue therefore to allow him to attend the academy,” Leominster Goldman said. But he added, “It was not a malicious act.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at email@example.com.