Cape legislators call for review of system after Yarmouth officer’s killing

A Cape Cod Times article written on April 23rd, announces that a delegation that State Representative Will Crocker is on, seeks oversight hearing on cases involving defendant Thomas Latanowich. They seek an oversight hearing in a letter they sent to leaders of the state’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary and Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Cape Legislators Call for Review of System After Yarmouth Officer’s Killing

Cape Cod Times

Geoff Spillane

April 23, 2018

Delegation seeks oversight hearing on cases involving defendant Thomas Latanowich.

HYANNIS — The Cape and Islands legislative delegation wants to know why Thomas Latanowich, the career criminal charged with killing Yarmouth police Sgt. Sean Gannon, was not behind bars at the time of the fatal shooting April 12.

The region’s eight state senators and representatives are pushing for an oversight hearing to be convened on Beacon Hill to scrutinize and identify lapses in the state’s criminal justice system that allowed Latanowich to avoid prison time “through a combination of not-guilty findings by judges, failure of key witnesses to testify and outright dismissal of charges,” according to a letter sent Monday afternoon.

The letter, signed by the entire delegation, was sent to leaders of the state’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary and Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

“Now that we have laid Sgt. Gannon to rest, we seek to turn our region’s grief towards action,” the lawmakers say in the letter.

State Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, said he would like the hearing to occur before the end of the session in July, especially since constituents have so many questions.

“We want answers to enhance public safety and enhance safety for our officers,” he said.

Cyr represents Yarmouth in the Senate, and Timothy Whelan, R-Brewster, and William Crocker, R-Centerville, represent the town in the House.

Boston run to honor Gannon
Run to Remember Boston, an annual charity half-marathon and 5-mile run, will honor Yarmouth police Sgt. Sean Gannon as part of its pre-race tribute May 27, according to a statement from organizers.

The race, created 14 years ago as a tribute to first responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty, also will honor two police officers killed as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings five years ago, MIT Officer Sean Collier and Boston Officer Dennis “DJ” Simmonds, the statement says.

Gannon, 32, was shot and killed April 12 while trying to serve an arrest warrant in Marstons Mills with other officers.

More information is available at bostonsruntoremember.com.

“The whole delegation is united in this,” Cyr said. “This is not a political matter. It’s about getting answers and helping people heal.”

During his adult life, Latanowich, 29, who lived for years on the Cape but most recently listed a Somerville address, accumulated a long criminal record.

His past charges include illegal possession of guns, violent abuse of a domestic partner, multiple charges of assault and battery, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and witness intimidation. Police were trying to serve an arrest warrant issued for him for a recent probation violation when Gannon, 32, and his K-9 partner Nero were shot at a house on Blueberry Lane in Marstons Mills. Nero is recovering from his injuries.

“We are shocked that Latanowich has been criminally charged over 125 times, including numerous serious and violent crimes,” the letter states.

Whelan hopes the hearing will answer a myriad of unanswered questions.

“We want to know how ’125′ was on the streets and not locked away,” Whelan, a retired state police sergeant, said. “We need to find out if there are systemic problems with the criminal justice system and work toward fixing them to keep law enforcement and the public safe.”

“125” refers to the Yarmouth Police Department’s decision to call Latanowich by the number of criminal charges police say he has accrued, rather than by his name.

“Right now we can rail against the system, but it’s important we do our homework and take an analytical approach to hopefully come up with a solution,” Whelan said. “It’s broken,” he said of the system.

In the letter, the delegation asks to participate in the hearing. It also requests the following officials be invited to present testimony: Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula Carey; Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett; Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan; Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson; Somerville Police Chief David Fallon; Massachusetts Parole Board Chairman Paul Treseler; and Massachusetts Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan.

Cape Cod delegation sends letter to Judiciary and Public Safety Committee by Cape Cod Times on Scribd

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey are among those copied on the letter.

“We owe it to Sgt. Gannon, his family and the Yarmouth Police Department to take a hard look at what happened, particularly at the Trial Court, witness protection programs and probation departments,” Cyr said. “We need to see if there are lessons to be learned from this tragic loss.”

Read the full article here.