Posted by Cape Cod Daily News via Hyannis News
Thursday March 28, 2024 (2 weeks, 4 days ago)

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[HN NOTES & MULLINGS ON THE MATTER] Like an eager pack of Bluetick Coonhounds around an Alabama Oak, cops in Boxford, Massachusetts had a wanted man treed and completely surrounded. Darren Devine, 32, most recently of West Yarmouth, was wanted on a bench warrant out of Barnstable. (Devine also had a similar interaction with Yarmouth Police Officers about six days ago, but I’ll get to that…) In a phone interview, Boxford Police Chief James Riter said Devine had been pacing back and forth along a wide fallen pine tree, suspended about ten feet off the ground by other trees. “Shoot me out of the damn tree!” a frustrated Devine reportedly told the officers below after about ten minutes of pacing while considering his next move. He was surrounded by cops in all directions. There was no place to run. “You’re not going anywhere. Today’s not your day,” Chief Riter replied, looking up at Devine, a cornered desperado… ……… With a history of violence, Devine apparently had no qualms about making a sudden reckless move just six days prior when confronted by a Yarmouth patrolman. Last Thursday evening, Devine had been wanted on two felony arrest warrants when spotted in the passenger seat of a vehicle parked near a West Yarmouth barroom. Patrolman Jefferson Willis had exited his cruiser, drew his firearm and pointed it at Devine, yelling, “Yarmouth Police show me your hands!” According to a police report, Devine didn’t comply with Patrolman Jefferson’s commands, exited the vehicle and bolted into Route 28 traffic, causing motorists to abruptly slow in order to avoid hitting him. Additional Yarmouth officers were already in the area to assist when Devine sprinted behind a building and through a parking lot, where Officer Willis was able to catch up and tackle him to the ground. A scuffle ensued, but officers were eventually able to gain control of his hands which had been tucked underneath him. Once safely handcuffed, a search of Devine revealed he had been carrying a knife, according to the police report. According Chief Riter, Tuesday’s arrest in Boxford had to be carefully planned out. Having read earlier media accounts of Devine’s previous volatile encounters with police, he wasn’t taking any chances and called for additional officers, including several from his own department. Chief Riter commands a small force of 25 full time and reserve officers. Boxford is a rural Massachusetts town with a population of approximately 8000, and it’s not unusual for Chief Riter’s squad to work closely with surrounding towns. A number of Topsfield Police Officers, along with several state troopers from a nearby barracks, were all more than happy to show up and assist. Tuesday’s shrinking dragnet was closing in on Devine’s treetop hideout. Chief Riter’s department had first been alerted about Devine upon receiving a suspicious person call Monday morning. Boxford officers eventually located and spoke with Devine who was dressed in camouflage near Masconomet Regional High School Monday morning. Devine reportedly told officers something about looking for his cellphone and his intentions to walk to the nearby town of Topsfield. With nearby middle and high school students outside practicing spring sports in the afternoon, officers felt a need to find out more about the camouflaged stranger. Later, Boxford officers spoke with Topsfield Officers who had also received suspicious person calls about Devine. There had even been a report of a man fitting Devine’s description attending a Saturday Mass at a nearby church in Topsfield. He looked out of place, and there were questions about whether the newly arrived Devine lookalike had actually been in attendance for sincere, heartfelt worship… (but nobody really knows what his real intentions were, and only God can be the judge of a thing like that, the contents of a man’s heart). But still, something didn’t feel right. Officers dug deeper and learned about Devine’s recent attempt to flee Yarmouth Police, along with his ultimate arrest after an agitated scuffle. They also learned about the recent active Barnstable bench warrant for his arrest. More and more concerned about nearby middle and high school students, Chief Riter and another officer began checking school grounds and outbuildings around 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday before the two schools opened. Having grown up in the area, Chief Riter knows the area like the back of his hand. If still in the area, and if his suspicions were correct, there were only so many places Devine could hideout and still be too near to the arriving school children. The Ipswich River, where Chief Riter swam as a child, formed a natural barrier to the school grounds. The nearby Route 95 wildlife exclusion fencing provided a pretty good second barrier, (but later, upon locating Devine’s camp, a couple state troopers would position themselves on the other side of the highway fence just in case.) Having cleared the nearest school outbuildings and structures, Chief Riter began scanning the tree line along the campus perimeter, and that’s when something caught his eye. It was camouflage clothing hanging from a tree.  Up high.  And it looked like the jacket Devine had been wearing the day before.  “Found him,” crossed the Chief’s worried mind. Devine’s ass was now in a sling, literally. Completely surrounded, officers looked up at Devine’s hammock slung between the branches above. From his hammock, Devine was reluctant to respond to the officers’ uninvited wake-up calls. They called and called, but it didn’t work. They even blew a whistle to no avail.  No immediate response… This initial encounter had happened around 8:00 a.m., when officers were certain all school children were safely inside their classrooms. And out of an additional abundance of caution, the nearby middle and high schools (Over 2000 kids from three towns) were placed on lockdown should Devine ever manage to flee in their direction. The careful plan paid off, and officers were able to eventually convince Devine there really was no way out. He finally climbed down and went along peacefully. Chief Riter noted Devine’s preparation and survival skills, especially his knowledge of ropes and knots. He even had a fur shawl that he had picked up somewhere along the way. But there were also oddities in his gear, like outdated car fuses and clothing that didn’t seem to fit with camp life. How Devine had come to land in the Boxford woods is anyone’s guess. He may have been heading further north. In fact, his mother reportedly told Chief Riter she believes he was heading to Vermont. One thing is certain, a warrant had been issued because Devine didn’t show up for court. “It never should have happened,” Chief Riter told HN. Chief Riter also pointed out that the children in his town are not accustomed to coming across random strangers camping in the woods of Boxford. Their possible shock from encountering a stranger wanted by police worried him.  His main concern was for the safety of the children.   According to a Yarmouth Police media statement from March of 2019, Darren Patrick Devine was wanted by the Provincetown Police Department on Arrest Warrants for violent crimes, including Assault and Battery on a Police Officer, Breaking and Entering, and Destruction of Property. In their 2019 statement, the YPD wrote, “Devine is dangerous and mentally unstable with a long violent criminal history in Massachusetts with 91 priors.” In a way, Chief James Riter felt he had been training his entire life for Tuesday’s capture of Darren Devine. He had grown up playing in those woods during the late 70s and 80s. Along with friends, he swam in the local Ipswich River. He knows the layout of the land down to every minute detail, including a nearby ancient burial ground with the ancient graves of the area’s founding families… … but most importantly, and from my point of view, Chief Riter cares about his small hometown, along with the families and children who are bound to follow in his footsteps. And no matter where one may find themselves, from Boxford to Key Largo, caring about the wellbeing of others makes all the difference.   P.S. – Today’s Hytown Vignette is brought to you by Sarah Vaughan…  [CLICK IT/CRANK IT! HEADPHONES ABSOLUTELY OBLIGATORY!]   * Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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