Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said Monday that his son, who had been driven home earlier this month by a Boston police officer amid suspicion he was impaired, was arrested over the weekend in New Hampshire on charges of operating under the influence.
In a statement, Davis said his 22-year-old son, Philip, had decided to seek treatment for substance abuse after his arrest Friday night in Plymouth, N.H.
“Like many families that struggle with substance abuse, we are reaching out to experts to get Philip the help he needs,” the commissioner said in a statement. “Jane and I love our son very much and are relieved that he has decided to seek treatment. This sudden and public challenge is the most difficult issue we have dealt with as a family, but we pray that Philip will persevere and overcome this setback. We are thankful that no one has been hurt in this situation.”
Edward Davis said in the statement that his son told him Monday about the arrest. Reached at his Hyde Park home Monday night, he declined to comment further.
While the commissioner said his son had been arrested Friday, New Hampshire authorities said it happened early Sunday morning.
New Hampshire State Police said in a statement that troopers stopped the vehicle Davis was driving at about 3 a.m. Sunday on High Street. Davis had five passengers with him, the statement said.
He was charged with driving while intoxicated, and all of the passengers were charged with being minors in possession of alcohol, State Police said.
The passengers were identified as Cathryn McCarthy, 20; Annie McCarthy, 18; and Meghan McCarthy, 18, all of Hudson, N.H., as well as Jordan McCarthy, 17; and Sheehan McCarthy, 20; both of Lowell.
Davis and his passengers could not immediately be reached for comment.
They are all scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 28 in Plymouth District Court, State Police said.
The announcement sharpened scrutiny of the department’s handling of the Feb. 4 event, when a Boston patrolman stopped Philip Davis as he was about to drive home from the TD Garden.
A passerby had told the officer that Davis appeared to be drunk as he got into his car, according to police.
The officer stopped Davis and determined he had been drinking, but was uncertain whether he was impaired.
The officer then gave Davis and his girlfriend a ride home.
The officer’s decision not to arrest Davis or administer sobriety tests has raised questions about whether he received preferential treatment.
Davis told the officer who his father was and said “something to the effect that he wouldn’t want to upset the officer or his father,” according to a police report.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told the Globe after the event that the officer who stopped Davis did not believe he was drunk.
After learning what had happened, Edward Davis called for an internal investigation. The department also notified the Suffolk district attorney’s office.
Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Davis’s arrest in New Hampshire underscored the flaws in the initial decision to drive Davis home.
“That can’t be policy,” he said. “Some people don’t get the point until they get arrested. These arrests often result in saving people from themselves.”
Thomas Nolan, a former Boston police lieutenant who now lectures part time on criminal justice at Tufts University, said Monday that he still believes the Boston officer acted appropriately in the prior encounter, despite the younger Davis’s arrest.
He noted that in the Boston event, there were questions about Davis’s possible level of intoxication.
“I think obviously looking back in hindsight, and through that prism, we can question once again the decision of the [Boston] officer at the time,” Nolan said. “But I still think that given the fact that in the earlier incident at the Garden, there were no personal injuries, no property damage, and no accidents, and that the officer made the decision in consultation with colleagues and [a] supervisor about how best to proceed . . . I still think that was a sound decision.”
Nolan also commended the commissioner for publicly acknowledging his son’s arrest in New Hampshire and said he hopes Philip Davis gets the treatment that he needs.
“I commend Commissioner Davis for his forthrightness and his candor in coming forward with information that has got to be extremely painful,” Nolan said.
But Jack Levin, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said that while the decision to drive Davis home may appear worse in light of the arrest, it may well have failed as a wake-up call.
“It doesn’t mean this wouldn’t have happened again,” he said. “Being arrested, even serving a prison sentence, it only works if the person has internal control. It has to be something that comes from within.”
Officers have broad latitude on whether to arrest drivers they suspect have been drinking, and some observers view the patrolman’s decision to drive Davis home as a sensible response to what appeared to be a borderline case.
But others say that because the officer was aware who Davis was, the drive home invited charges of favoritism.
According to the report, Davis told the officer he could park his car and “get home another way.” The officer, who noted it had been snowing, agreed, and offered him a ride home.