Death of Yarmouth police Officer Sean Gannon sparks call for change

April 15, 2018

Cape Cod Times

By Sean F. Driscoll

SOUTH YARMOUTH — Events to support the community and family of Yarmouth police Officer Sean Gannon, who was shot in line of duty on Thursday, have so far been mostly somber and supportive affairs, as was a pancake breakfast Sunday to benefit the 32-year-old officer’s family.

But for the Yarmouth Police Department, the mix of emotions in the wake of Gannon’s death has steadily come to include anger.

At a candlelight vigil Saturday night, Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson delivered an emotional speech that mixed the lyrics of “Let It Be” with a fiery plea for change. Flanked on both sides by local and state lawmakers, the chief vowed that Gannon’s death would be a spark to create changes to better protect police.

“For the future, we are going to take Sean’s death and push it forward with the help of these men behind me — and they better do it — to change things to protect police officers,” Frederickson said, referring to the state legislators at his side. “Because I’m sick of it.

“We have spent the last five years of getting crapped on. We’re not doing it any more,” he said to cheers from the crowd. “You know our police budget for training just got cut by a million dollars? That’s ridiculous! Pay attention, everybody! Share your voices! Help us! I don’t want to see this happen to anybody ever again.”

In an email Sunday, Frederickson clarified he was referring to the budget for the state Municipal Police Training Committee, which develops training standards and delivers training to local law enforcement personnel. The department was budgeted at $6.6 million in the current fiscal year but is projected to spend only $5.5 million, according to the state budget website. Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget for fiscal year 2019 proposes funding it at just over $6.5 million.

Barely 24 hours after Gannon’s death, the Yarmouth Police Department posted a link on its Facebook page to a Change.org petition, “Justice for Officer Gannon and Officer Nero,” calling for Baker to “hold judges accountable for the improper decisions they make when sentencing a career criminal.”

The man charged in Gannon’s murder, 29-year-old Thomas Latanowich, has 125 prior criminal charges on his record, according to a Yarmouth Police Depatment Facebook post from Saturday morning. Latanowich, whom the department and its personnel now publicly refer to as “125” to avoid using his name, was wanted on a probation violation after he was absent for a home visit April 4 in Somerville and skipped a drug test April 5, according to the state Probation Service.