He fought for his country during the Korean War. He spent nearly 60 years as a police officer before retiring and becoming a crossing guard for kids. And now the MV Times says he’s been relieved of duty and forced to turn his guns over to police.
84-year-old Stephen Nichols has been serving as the crossing guard at Martha’s Vineyard’s Tisbury School for years. But after a comment he made was taken out of context, he’s become the latest American to fall victim to new Red Flag laws.
Nichols was confronted by local officers who reportedly relieved him of his crossing guard duty – which he was in the middle of – then led him to his home, where they confiscated his personal firearms.
Our story about an unusual situation between a crossing guard and local police has generated extraordinary FB activity and site commentary. https://t.co/lue52mWmsU
— Rich Saltzberg (@rich_saltzberg) October 13, 2019
According to reports, crossing guards in the town are “hired, trained and scheduled, entirely by the police department.”
The department cited an alleged threat as the reason for the termination. But Nichols says that’s not exactly true. He says he made a comment criticizing the school’s SRO and said that it’s been taken out of context and blown way out of proportion.
But Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio reportedly carried out the decision to seize the lifelong public servant’s weapons, citing him as posing a risk to himself or others. And it’s not just the guns — the chief also wants to take away Nichols’ license to carry altogether, which he’s had since 1958.
Nichols said that the events began to unfold after he made a comment about how the school’s SRO would visit the nearby Xtra Mart to get coffee when the kids came to school in the morning. Nichols apparently said that somebody could come “shoot up the school” while he was out getting his morning grind, “leaving his post.”
Simply put, as a veteran police officer, he was frustrated to see a cop ditch out on what could potentially be a risky time in order to grab a cup of joe.
“When I was in the United States Army, and it wasn’t just me, it’s anybody who’s in the United States service, if you are on guard duty for eight hours, you didn’t leave that position,” Nichols said. “And I’m just so accustomed to that, that when I see someone who’s suppose to be protecting kids…leave the school unguarded — if you’re on guard duty, you stay there.”
He says that he made the comment while eating at a local restaurant. A waitress overheard the comment and reported it.
Based off of that alone, Chef Saloio had his officers remove Nichols from his crossing guard duties and made him turn over his guns.
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Nichols’ attorney, Dan Larkosh, said he plans to file for an appeal of the decision to take away the guns and license, especially after learning that the department did not serve him with any official paperwork for the license seizer, but simply demanded that he turn it over.
“No, he just told me to hand it over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him,” Nichols said of Saloio.
Locals who know Nichols well called the decision “outrageous” and “absurd”.
— Paul Diego Craney (@pauldiegocraney) October 13, 2019
“We would expect reasonable minds to prevail, and [Nichols] to be reinstated in his job,” Larkosh said.
Chief Saloio wouldn’t comment on the situation.
“There’s nothing that I can legally discuss about the matter. Period.”
According to Nichols, the chief told him that what he did was a chargeable offense, but wouldn’t arrest him.
“He came up and told me what I said was a felony but he wasn’t going to charge me,” Nichols said.
The Town Administrator also gave very little feedback on the events that took place.
“In response to your inquiry, I want to acknowledge that a crossing guard was removed from active status pending a review of personnel related concerns,” Jay Grande wrote in an email to the MV Times. “I will not have any further comment on this matter.”
Nichols is frustrated, and though he claims he doesn’t take his guns out of his home on a regular basis, he does want his license to carry back. The guns were released into the hands of his family members.
“My grandson is manager of a gun shop in Worcester, Mass and he’s going to be allowed to come down and take the weapons and sell them for me,” he said.
Nichols says he has 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He lost his wife two years ago and the job with the kids helped him stay positive.
“I just need something to do to get out of the house and I love the kids,” he said. “I would never, ever, ever, harm a child.”
No criminal charges have been filed against Nichols, yet he’s out of a job and has been denied his constitutional rights.
So what’s really going on here?
With any hope, the news will make a big enough stir to allow the hypocrisy to be exposed and to allow this great American to have his job back!
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