The Cranston Police Department’s three top-ranking officers were traveling together in an unmarked Ford Explorer on the afternoon of Nov. 27 when they were unexpectedly called into action.
The trio – Chief of Police Col. Michael Winquist and Majs. Todd Patalano and Robert Quirk – were returning to the department’s Garfield Avenue headquarters when a black Honda sped past them on Cranston Street.
They watched as the Honda operated erratically and aggressively, Patalano writes in his report of the incident – going head-on with vehicles in the center turning lane, swerving back into the travel lane, squeezing recklessly between other cars and the curb amid heavy pre-holiday traffic.
Based on the multiple traffic violations that had been witnessed – and the threat posed to other drivers – Patalano initiated a motor vehicle stop near the intersection of Cranston Street and Harris Avenue.
“I had the best backup,” he said Tuesday regarding a rare field incident involving the top members of the department’s command staff. “I had Col. Winquist and Maj. Quirk.”
The incident resulted in the arrest of Joseph Delsignore, 36, of Cumberland on a charge of suspicion of driving under the influence. Delsignore was later released with a summons to appear in Third Division District Court on a charge of driving under the influence, and was additionally cited to refusal to submit to a chemical test, laned roadway violations and other traffic infractions.
In a narrative report of the incident, Patalano writes that after initiating the stop, he made contact with the operator on the driver’s side while Winquist approached the vehicle’s passenger side. The major reports that he immediately detected a “very strong odor of alcohol” coming from the vehicle.
Officer Joshua A. Mason subsequently responded to the scene and administered field sobriety testing. Mason and Officer James Murray then brought Delsignore to the department’s headquarters for processing.
On Tuesday, Patalano said the timing of the incident – approximately 3:15 p.m., as many motorists were leaving work or running errands on the day before Thanksgiving – made the operator’s actions particularly dangerous.
He said the command staff’s use of an unmarked vehicle – which is outfitted with emergency lighting and other standard equipment – can result in them seeing behavior that the presence of a marked cruiser would deter.
“You tend to see much more,” he said, adding: “This gentleman’s driving habits certainly made himself a prime focus.”