What's the Deal with Protective Custody?
We answer a reader's question and want to know what you think about this law enforcement issue.
It's time for another edition of You Ask…Patch Answers.
Today we're answering a question about a term readers see in our police log — protective custody. Readers want to know more about protective custody and what it entails.
Here are some answers from Mass General Laws c111b, s8 on protective custody (PC):
If a person is incapacitated, he or she "may be assisted by a police officer with or without his [or her] consent to his [or her] residence to a facility or to a police station," according MGL.
The officer who encounters the person may ask the person to submit to "reasonable tests of coordination, coherency of speech, and breath," MGL states.
If taken to a police station, the person has the right to ask for a breathalyzer test.
The law further states that "any person who is administered a breathalyzer test shall be presumed intoxicated if evidence from said test indicates that the percentage of alcohol in his blood is ten one hundredths or more and shall be placed in protective custody at a police station or transferred to a [detox] facility…Only when such test of coordination or speech coherence indicates said person is intoxicated shall the person be placed in protective custody at a police station or transferred to a facility."
MGL also states the person has a right to a phone call.
When taken to the police station, police are required to notify the nearest detox facility of the PC. As for bringing a person to a detox facility, police said space is almost never available.
Police may keep a person in protective custody up to 12 hours.
Further, a person placed in protective custody is not considered to have committed a crime.
"A person assisted to a facility or held in protective custody by the police pursuant to the provisions of this section, shall not be considered to have been arrested or to have been charged with any crime," according to the law.
Though Reading or North Reading does not have any penalties or fines associated with one-time or repeated instances of protective custody, other towns, including Mansfielld and Foxborough, have considered or recently implemented penalties in certain instances.
We want to know what your thoughts are on fining people taken into protective custody. Let us know what you think in the comments.