Falmouth Constable Accused of Impersonating a Police Officer
By: Christopher Kazarian
A routine traffic stop of his stepson, Aaron M. Francis, at the end of last month in Bourne could lead to more troubles for Falmouth constable George W. Morse, of Highview Drive, East Falmouth, who is being accused of impersonating a police officer by police in the neighboring town.
Mr. Morse, who is maintaining his innocence, will go before a clerk magistrate at Falmouth District Court on Tuesday, July 5, at which point it will be determined whether he should be arraigned.
The charges stem from a traffic stop that occurred at the end of May, during which Mr. Morse said his stepson was pulled over for speeding and also ticketed for not wearing a seat belt.
While Mr. Morse is not disputing those infractions, he said he was upset that Bourne Police Officer Brandon Esip had Mr. Francis’s vehicle towed because it was unregistered. Mr. Morse said the registration was not set to expire until the last day of the month and Mr. Esip was wrong in having the car towed, which cost Mr. Francis $125 to get the vehicle back.
Shortly after the incident, Mr. Morse said he received a phone call message from Mr. Esip and returned the call later that day. What Mr. Morse said to Mr. Esip is the subject of dispute.
George Morse has been a controversial figure in Falmouth politics since 2009.
Bourne Police Chief Dennis R. Woodside would not confirm the identities of those mentioned in Mr. Esip’s police report, filed on May 28, but did say that “we received a phone call from a subject who identified himself as a Falmouth police officer and that individual is being charged with impersonating an officer.”
Although he would not comment on the persons involved until they are arraigned, Chief Woodside defended Mr. Esip. “I stand by his accounting of the report,” he said.
The penalty for impersonating a police officer, which is a misdemeanor, carries with it a maximum fine of $400 or one year in prison.
Morse code of conduct
As to what he said to Mr. Esip over the phone, Mr. Morse said, “I did not identify myself as a Falmouth police officer, and I think it is totally ridiculous. Nobody identified themselves as a police officer. I’ve been a constable for 25 years. You can’t do civil work if you are a police officer. Why would I say I’m a police officer?”
Mr. Morse said this is just another example of the town having a vendetta against him.
“It’s ‘Let’s see if we can get George Morse.’ I’m at the end of my rope with this crap,” he said. “You know what? It is very ironic and very depressing. I don’t go out drinking. I don’t smoke. I’m a family man. I don’t understand this. I don’t know what they got against me. They keep pushing my buttons.”
Since Mr. Morse reapplied to be a constable in 2009, he has been at the center of controversy in Falmouth. Selectmen butted heads several times over the course of a year surrounding his reappointment but eventually voted him back to the position in July of last year.
Much of Mr. Morse’s issues related to an investigation the Falmouth Police Department did into Mr. Morse’s background following a series of incidents from 2006 to 2009. These included Mr. Morse tailgating a woman closely down Acapesket Road, East Falmouth, on Halloween night in 2008.
While Mr. Morse has defended his actions on that night, saying he was following the woman because she was operating erratically, she told police that his actions made her nervous, so she decided to report them.
“Constable Morse caused a greater public safety issue as he appeared more like a predator than an investigator or concerned citizen,” Falmouth Police Captain Edward A. Dunne wrote in his November 2008 report to Falmouth Police Chief Anthony J. Riello.
Additionally, Capt. Dunne found an April 2, 1996, New Bedford Standard Times article that recounted Mr. Morse’s two arrests in 1990 for impersonating a police officer in Rhode Island. The article stated that the cases were dismissed when the complainants did not appear in court.
In his 2008 report Captain Dunne was also critical of Mr. Morse for “overstepping his authority” for investigating harassing phone calls from a town phone number as well as using town personnel to gain access into properties he had no legal right to enter on his own.
Both the police department and selectmen were criticized by Mr. Morse and former selectman Ahmed A. Mustafa for accessing, distributing and viewing Mr. Morse’s sealed criminal record.
Mr. Morse, with the support of Mr. Mustafa, eventually took his fight to both the Criminal History Systems Board as well as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, alleging wrongdoing on the part of the town. Mr. Morse was unsuccessful in both cases, as the two state agencies ruled the town did not act improperly in regard to his criminal records.
The Bourne incident represents the latest chapter for Mr. Morse, who will learn whether these charges will be upheld in July.
On Wednesday he sounded defeated, saying he is contemplating moving away from Falmouth because of the problems he has endured.
“I might have to [move],” he said. “It is a shame. I wanted to raise my daughter in the same place I was raised. It is a shame a group of people can force others into things they don’t want to do. It should be a crime in itself... For some odd reason I just can’t get out of this shadow in Falmouth.”
Mr. Morse’s problems may not end with the court. On Tuesday evening Acting Town Manager Heather B. Harper sent an e-mail to selectmen, apprising them of the situation and making them aware that the Bourne Police Department was filing a complaint against Mr. Morse in court.
“It is a unique situation,” Ms. Harper said. “I have to talk with the chairman [Mary (Pat) Flynn] about any response the town might have on this.... We need to review it with our attorney whether to recommend any action to the board, and we are not at that point yet.”