Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 17, 2009

Alleged police stalker arrested

BY ART BUKOWSKI

TRAVERSE CITY -- He's vocal, angry and for several months he allegedly "stalked" local police officers.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Thomas C. Massey, 56, a day after his arrest for an incident that included him allegedly damaging a police vehicle and screaming profanities at an officer outside the Dennis W. Finch Law Enforcement Center on Woodmere Avenue.

Massey spent a good portion of Monday shouting at officers and making a profane gesture at them as he paced around the building, police said.

It wasn't an isolated incident. Police contend Massey heckled and harassed local officers since at least March, and he's often spotted around the law enforcement center.

"It's to the point now where things are getting a little scary; I don't want anybody to get hurt," Grand Traverse Sheriff's Capt. Tom Emerson said. "I'm worried about our employees in the building."

Massey, of Traverse City, was arrested in March after he crept around the Grand Traverse County Jail property taking information from jail employees' license plates and peeping in their cars, Emerson said. Charges weren't approved in that incident.

On Monday afternoon, Massey -- who police said was clad in a Hawaiian shirt and a Christmas tie -- approached an officer who pulled into the lot behind the building. The officer asked Massey if he needed help, and he began to spew profanities.

Massey repeatedly refused to calm down, so officers arrested him. He allegedly struggled and "body checked" a patrol vehicle and broke a mirror during the arrest, Emerson said.

Massey was belligerent and aggressive, police said, but didn't make any specific threats against officers.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Al Schneider charged Massey with attempted malicious destruction of police property and disturbing the peace. He remained in custody Tuesday afternoon and is expected to be arraigned today.

Police said Massey doesn't have a criminal history. On Monday, an officer ticketed him for obstructing traffic when he wouldn't move from the alley behind the building.

"Nobody seems to know why he has a beef with us or what his problem is ... it's just bizarre," Emerson said.

Steve Morse, a local representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the nature of the man's alleged speech may have warranted a violation of law, and there is no constitutional protection for property destruction.

"This is not the kind of case I'd get terribly worked up about," he said.