Officer dozes off, clips pole in cruiser

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LEWISTON – A police officer dozed off in his cruiser at the end of his shift and clipped a utility pole.

Raymond Vega, 21, of Auburn said he fell asleep while his cruiser was heading northeast on Whipple Street at 7 a.m. Saturday, May 13, according to a police report. The front right wheel jumped the granite curb onto the sidewalk. At the same time, the cruiser sideswiped a utility pole, clipping the passenger side-view mirror.

Vega, who has been on the force for about a year, called his supervisor to report the accident and asked to meet him at the scene.

The cruiser was towed to the city garage.

Photos taken at the scene detailed damage to the cruiser and showed a scrape along the sidewalk. Another photo showed a skid mark on the sidewalk and what appears to be pieces of the 2006 Ford’s lower ball joint, the report said.

Police estimated damage at $900.

The incident was referred to a sergeant for internal review, according to the report that surfaced this week.

Deputy Police Chief Michael Bussiere said Vega had been working since 11 p.m. Bussiere couldn’t recall “too many incidents” where officers have fallen asleep in their cruisers. But, it’s not the first time given the abnormal hours many of them work, he said.

“I’m sure it’s happened in the past and I’m sure it will happen in the future,” he said.

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