Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua apologized yesterday for criticizing one of his police detectives on a Spanish radio station over the weekend for allegedly not aggressively investigating a case where Lantigua said he was almost hit by a car.
In a statement, Lantigua apologized, calling his remarks “inappropriate” on WCCM 1110-AM.
In his remarks, Lantigua said he was treated “like a criminal” after he reported that he and an aide were nearly struck by a Ford sedan. He also insinuated that the police might plant evidence against him.
The remarks couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Lantigua and the police have already been at odds for more than a month after Lantigua suggested the Lawrence police were lazy about responding to and investigating crime. He also blamed police for a rise in auto thefts, despite the fact that Lawrence laid off nearly a quarter of the department last year, forcing the police department to eliminate its specialized units, including the gang and auto theft units, in order to adequately fill patrol requirements.
There is also a massive cultural significance behind the comments made by the state’s first Latino mayor. Lawrence is predominantly Latino, and remarks like that, on a Spanish-language radio station, may fuel fires of distrust between the police and community and dissuade people from reporting crime or cooperating with police.
In an Associated Press report, the Lawrence patrolmen’s union blasted Lantigua for the remarks and criticized him for reporting the incident more than a day after it happened.