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Milford police chief defends actions at traffic stop after being placed on paid leave

Embattled Milford Police Chief Michael Pighetti, who was placed on paid leave last week amid an inquiry into whether he misused his authority, on Tuesday defended his actions in a statement released by his lawyer.

Pighetti said in the statement that he was placed on leave following an incident that occurred late last month.

On Jan. 28, he said, he was driving his town-issued unmarked police vehicle when he saw another car run a red light at a busy intersection at Congress and West streets.

“This driving created a dangerous situation,” Pighetti said. “Subsequently, the vehicle traveled north on Congress St. where it continued to speed, crossed the center line, came close to striking parked vehicles and almost hit the curbing and sidewalk at Town Park. I obviously was concerned by these observations, not only based upon the potential harm that it created for persons and property in the area, but also because it could have been the case that the driver was suffering from a medical emergency or otherwise was impaired.”

Pighetti said he activated his emergency lights, but the other vehicle didn’t stop right away.


“With a school zone ahead, the siren on my vehicle was activated — this appeared to get the operator’s attention and he stopped his vehicle,” the chief continued. “I interacted with the operator to determine if he needed medical assistance or if something else was occurring that caused his driving behavior. I requested assistance through the Department immediately and officers arrived shortly thereafter. I explained the sequence of events to the officers on scene and advised the officers to proceed as they saw fit.”

He said he issued no orders or instructions regarding the specific actions he felt his officers should take.

“I left the scene,” Pighetti said. “According to the subsequent report, the officers assessed the operator and determined that he was not impaired. A citation was issued for the lack of a valid license and no citations were issued based upon my observations of the driver’s violations. My justified actions were motivated solely by the desire to protect the safety and security of our community members.”


Milford Town Manager Richard A. Villani declined to comment Tuesday, citing the ongoing review.

Last week, Villani had issued a statement confirming Pighetti had been placed on leave, without providing any details of the underlying incident.

Villani said the Milford Select Board voted to place Pighetti on paid leave “pending the completion of an internal investigation into allegations he exercised unauthorized and unnecessary police powers while contractually serving in his capacity as” chief.

The statement said Lieutenant James Falvey will serve as acting chief during the pendency of the review.

“To preserve the integrity of the on-going investigation, no further comment will be made at this time,” Villani said in last week’s statement.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.