NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Four police officers in Rhode Island are being investigated for making five boys do pushups on the side of a street as punishment for damaging a mailbox.
Acting North Providence Police Chief Paul Martellini said a woman called police Friday morning to report her mailbox was damaged. Officers soon found a bright yellow sports car that matched the description, he said. Several teenagers were inside.
Mayor Charles Lombardi told WPRO-AM on Monday the officers thought the best way to reprimand the teens was to have them do pushups.
A neighbor videotaped the stop from across the street and posted it online. It was first reported by WJAR-TV.
The video shows four police cars parked in a residential neighborhood behind a yellow car. People can be seen doing more than a dozen pushups next to the police cars while four uniformed officers watched. Once they were done doing pushups, they were allowed to leave.
Martellini on Monday said officers took the boys' names but did not write out a police report until after WJAR contacted the department Friday asking for comment. The parents of the boys, all residents of North Providence, were later notified, he said. He wouldn't comment on the parents' reactions.
Martellini said he has ordered an internal investigation and would not immediately comment on whether the officers' actions were appropriate. He said he heard from many people during the weekend about whether the officers' actions were appropriate.
"Some people say it's the right thing to do. Some people say it's the wrong thing to do. The question is, was it the professional thing to do?" he said.
Martellini is acting chief because Chief John Whiting was recently convicted of stealing money from a stripper's pocketbook after a car chase last year.
The mayor said officers took the law into their own hands, which he called it unacceptable. He wants the officers suspended.
"You can't fix stupid. I think that's the only explanation here," Lombardi told WPRO.