The arrest of James H. Packer, a Cambridge Rent Control Board officer, has sparked City Council discussion of his charges of police misconduct and consideration of possible checks on their behavior.
Packer has asked for a council hearing on his case, and at a regular meeting Monday night Councilors Saundra Graham and David Sullivan, members of the liberal Cambridge Civic Association, favored granting Packer's request as soon as possible.
But on the motion of conservative Independent Councilor Daniel Clinton, the council decided to wait for the completion of an ongoing internal police investigation of Packer's charges--which may take at least a month-- before holding a hearing.
"I don't think we should push this under the carpet, "Garham said Monday. "You really have to be pushed around before you ask for a hearing," she added.
Packer's charges stem from December 12 incident at the prospect St. Merit gas station, where he, his brother and a friend watched Cambridge police officers arrest a cabby, he said in an interview Tuesday.
"When the police were putting handcuff on the man he screamed out in pain, and my brother Buddy Packer stepped forward and protested," Packer said. "The police turned on him [Buddy Packer] and started to attack him with their night sticks," Packer stated.
Packer said that when he tried to protest, the police turned on him and began to best him. His friend, Martha Kramer, then tired to interfere and the police" threw her against the wagon and she subsequently lost her front tooth," Packer said.
Acting Police Chief Anthony Paolillo refused comment yesterday on the case. Paolillo said only that Packer has filed a citizen's complain' that is under investigation by the police division of Internal Affairs.
Packer maintains that the police beat him and his brother at the police garage where they were held after being arrested. Police charged Packers and Kramer with assault and battery on a police officer.
The three were found guilty during a February trial and are currently appealing the decision.
Michael Bolden, asst. dist. say for Middlesex County, said yesterday that "there seems to be some indication that the packers interfered with the police as they were attempting an arrest, a shuffle ensued and none of them would go voluntarily or quietly with the police."
But Sullivan said yesterday that "it's hard to know what happened in this case. There should definitely be a council hearing, not to make any determination of guilt or innocence, but inform the legislative body of What is going on in the city, and what steps should be taken." he added.
Sullivan said he favors the establishment of a civilian police commissioner to serve as a link between the police. the council and Cambridge residents. He noted, however, that there is probably not enough support on the council to creat the new post.
"We have a right to know how any servants of the city are treating the public," Graham said She added that the council needs to "understand what we can do to change that treatment if it's not good."
City Manager Robert Healy said Tuesday that there has been no recent increase in complaints about police behavior Packer "is pursuing the best administrative remedy available to him the Internal Affairs Division does a good job." Healy added