No one knows better the danger that a tense circumstance can present than police in the United States. Constantly under pressure to control people who are guaranteed rights that provide them a wide latitude of no control, the scenarios that citizens can present range from the mundane to sheer terror, even for a trained professional. With that thought, we continue to reflect on moments in the history of law enforcement we wish we could get back, the sacrifices of those that have paid the ultimate price on our behalf.
Gorham, New Hampshire
Gorham is the type of town that reminds you of what our forefathers saw in this country during its founding. It’s a large parcel of land, draped in mountains and deep forest the define each corner of the area, that is further defined by the bucolic Androscoggin River, a fly fisherman’s paradise, where a mere 45 years ago, the river had been inundated with trash and chemicals. Thanks to Senator Edmund Muskie, and his pioneering of the Clean Waters Act, the river recovered and is now just as pristine as it was when first discovered. A quick look on Google, and you’d swear that every postcard depicting New England is from Gorham. Our next officer was a well-known character in Gorham, and made as much of the dynamics of Gorham as the scenery itself.
Officer Jerome O. Piet
Officer Jerome O. Piet of the Gorham Police Department was working on May 28th, 1970 when he was called to Wood’s Restaurant on Main Street for a disturbance. Officer Robert Bagley, Officer George Webb, and Chief Dooan we on-duty as well and responded to call. Inside the restaurant a male suspect was arguing with the staff. The officers waited outside of the restaurant for the man to exit. They began to place him into custody, when a struggle ensued. The officers were able to gain control of the criminal, and transport him to the police station. While there, they made plans to transport him to a hospital in Concord for a mental health evaluation, when Officer Piet dropped on the floor. Officer Piet sustained a heart attacked, and life-saving efforts did not result positively.
Officer Piet was survived by his wife and two sons. Officer Piet’s death is not unusual for law enforcement officers. While we have not profiled many officers previously that experienced health problems immediately following an incident, as we write more about these incidents, you’ll find that in the first two hours after a use of force/critical incident, officers can succumb to physiological effects in the aftermath of such incidents. While there are many reasons for this, we believe it’s a serious topic that needs to be studied by medical professionals more deeply.
Because we believe there is a very good chance that officers like Jerome Piet could have been saved.
In memory of Officer Jerome O. Piet.