Lafayette St. in police crosshairs in wake of fireworks fracas

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Three officers take a suspect to the ground during Sunday night's incident on Lafayette Street. (Facebook/River Parsons video)

ROCHESTER - If you're caught squealing tires on Lafayette Street today, you can expect a summons, Rochester Police said, unveiling a new "zero tolerance" policy aimed at curbing concerns voiced by residents over "quality of life" issues throughout the neighborhood that have erupted recently.

It's been brewing for several weeks, Rochester Police Capt. Jason Thomas said today, but it came to a head on Sunday when some 10 cruisers were deployed to the area of 40B Lafayette Street to quell what's been described as a raucous crowd that turned belligerent toward officers after they were called to the area due to a fireworks complaint.

As a result of the initial call Matthew Spencer, 32 of 40B Lafayette St., was issued a summons for a city ordinance violation for using fireworks.

The two officers who issued the summons reported several in the crowd were swearing and yelling at them, but left only to almost immediately hear more fireworks apparently being set off again in the same area.

When they returned to investigate this second incident, several individuals became disorderly, leading to the arrests and the call for mutual aid backup.

Thomas said shift commanders recognize that things can go south in a hurry, so with a large, rowdy crowd in the street it was determined to call for the extra manpower.

Police responded with units from Milton, Barrington Farmington and Somersworth as well as Troop A in Epping.

Police on hand said there was around 60 people in the crowd watching - some taunting - as police arrested five individuals including two 17-year-olds considered minors.

Thomas said police did the right thing.

"When you're dealing with five arrests, and some are resisting arrest, and others in the crowd are heckling officers, with what's been going on over there, it was an easy call to call for mutual aid," Thomas said.

Those arrested included Spencer (disorderly conduct, resisting arrest or detention), Heather Hodgdon, 36, also of 40B Lafayette St. (simple assault on law enforcement X 3, resisting arrest or detention, attempted criminal mischief); and Nicholas Eaton, 18, of 11 Olde Farm Lane, Rochester (disorderly conduct, resisting arrest or detention).

The minors involved were from Somersworth and Rochester.

Rochester Police said today as a result of recent activity in the neighborhood and what occurred on Sunday police have begun a zero-tolerance policy on illegal activity, including violations of city ordinance.

Thomas said in recent weeks there's been nighttime gunshots, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and fighting in the area.

"These are quality of life issues for those who live there," Thomas said.

As part of the enforcement plan, extra patrols will be dispatched to the area, he said.

"Hopefully zero tolerance will be a deterrent," Thomas said.

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