I was born in New England and I think it is the most beautiful part of the “lower 48.”
New England has a little bit of everything – unique cities like Boston and Kennebunkport, beaches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, skiing in New Hampshire and Vermont, and beautiful coastal towns in Maine.
Many New Englander’s plan visits to the coastal towns of Connecticut and Rhode Island – and rightly so – but after some disturbing violence in Westerly, Rhode Island, I would recommend anyone planning a visit there to give it just a tad more thought. To be sure, I am not recommending families avoid going there – just to weigh recent events over the past year or so and then figure out if that is the ideal place for them to visit right now.
One important factor in choosing a vacation location is the quality of its police department. When you are visiting somewhere you no longer have the security of your own home and nearby neighbors and maybe your house dog with a great bark. You might also be leaving a house alarm system behind – so it is important to select a place that has a first rate police department that is nearby to protect and serve residents and tourists alike – and not one where some of its members have been accused of using excessive force while apprehending someone.
I have written several posts on my blogsite about Ryan O’Loughlin, an ex-navy veteran who served in the first Iraq war. Here is the link to my blogsite:
I am a retired USAF veteran myself and it pains me to see where another veteran, who served in and survived the first Iraq war and came home to become a homicide victim after being arrested and assaulted by police.
I will not bog down this blog with excessive detail about the incident where Ryan was taken down an alley after a heated discussion where he was hit excessively – so much that within 12 – 16 hours of his arrest, he died of severe liver damage.
Basically, there was a problem at an establishment in Westerly and Ryan voluntarily went outside to confront the person who just left after damaging the restroom. Ryan convinced the person to go back in and agree to pay for the damage – but before that could happen, several police showed up and from what I have read, these officers did not want to leave without taking charge and resolving the issue in their own manner – a manner that ultimately led to Ryan’s death.
To see more detail, please visit any of the following sites.
The most important of the three links is the 3rd one, in which you will find a petition awaiting your signature to encourage the FBI and/or the U.S. Justice department look into the circumstances surrounding the homicide of Ryan O’Loughlin.
Another problem that has been causing Westerly some grief is an escalation of teen violence.
A prominent Westerly, RI resident has addressed the town council twice in the past several months to express concerns for what might be considered gang violence.
Personally, I have not read exactly where gang violence has taken place but if I were a tourist I would like to know this before I planned on bringing my family to Westerly anytime soon. I would like to know exactly what plans are in place with the police department, the town council, the school district and even the state police to insure that tourists can visit and feel safe no matter where they stay and while visiting and enjoying all that Westerly has to offer.
Another factor for a family to consider is this: are there any members of the family – be it teenagers or an outspoken dad or mom who tend to speak their peace when they see something that does not seem right – like police officers who appear to be using excessive force. If someone in the family takes the action to take a video of what appears to be excessive force – they could be confronted by policemen, which could lead to another incident that could result in an arrest of a family member for simply expressing their concerns to the police or for taking photos or a video.
To be sure, I do not know what the policy of Westerly is when citizens, including tourists take a video of photos of what they perceive to be police using excessive force. Even if it is not against the law, a policemen might confront anyone who is filming an arrest or an incident to stop them from filming or taking photos – which could result in causing another incident that could easily get out of control.
Based on the O’Loughlin incident, it is possible that if the police confront a teenager and that teenager’s parent gets involved and a discussion turns ugly, it could result in another case where excessive force might occur.
On the surface, it appears that Westerly is a small, tight knit community where the police, the D. A., and the town council appear to be in lock step and that is bad for anyone who gets in any kind of trouble in Westerly because it might be hard finding anyone other than a defense attorney who can look at anything objectively.
Every town, city, county, and state needs a system of checks and balances where an incident can be evaluated from all sides. I do not know if that exists in Westerly after doing extensive research into the Ryan O’Loughlin incident.
The FBI is currently in Westerly reviewing the O’Loughlin incident from a civil rights perspective. Other articles I have read say that the review is more extensive than just the O’Loughlin incident and that is a good thing.
No matter what Ryan said to the police that night, he still should be alive to enjoy his wife and family today.
Ryan could have been tazered and held down by two policemen, while being handcuffed by the third, and put into a police vehicle without being hit with a night stick at all.
If I were visiting New England this year, Westerly would be the last place I would consider visiting – even for gasoline – I would make sure I had a full tank and I would make sure I was nowhere near the jurisdictional boundaries of the Westerly, Rhode Island Police Department.
Again, this is my personal choice based on my research. I strongly recommend each and every person reading this to do his/her own analysis and come up with their own decision.
Lastly, please participate in the 3 polls and take the time to post a comment. Thanks!