Capt. Christine Michalosky, commander of the local E-13 police station, is seriously ill and had her home entered on Dec. 5 by a SWAT team because fellow officers feared she could be armed and suicidal, according to media reports confirmed by the Boston Police Department (BPD).
An hour-long “stand-off” with more than a dozen officers at Michalosky’s Braintree house ended peacefully and without injuries. But it remains unclear exactly what happened. According to local media reports, one neighbor said a woman he assumed to be Michalosky was taken from the house screaming and put into an ambulance.
Michalosky, 61, is reportedly suffering from breast cancer and a heart ailment, according to a Boston Herald report that BPD spokesperson Officer Eddy Chrispin confirmed as accurate. She has been out on sick leave for months, but no public explanation had been offered.
Concerns about Michalosky’s mental health reportedly were triggered by her effort to personally buy a large amount of holiday gifts to donate to children at Jackson Square’s Bromley-Heath housing development.
The Herald article quoted Michalosky’s daughter, Kerry, as saying that the captain was not suicidal and that the situation was based on a misunderstanding.
Capt. Michalosky and Kerry Michalosky did not return Gazette phone calls to home numbers listed for them.
Chrispin declined to comment on most of the situation, describing it as “private.”
“The department’s take on it is, whatever she’s going through health-wise, we hope she’ll make a speedy recovery,” Chrispin said. Asked whether anything about the incident would affect Michalosky’s employment, Chrispin said, “Nothing that would cause alarm at this point.”
The E-13 Police Station referred Gazette questions to BPD headquarters. The Braintree Police Department did not return a Gazette phone call.
Lt. Michael Kern is E-13’s acting commander. Rapid turnover of E-13 commanders has drawn complaints in recent years from various officials, including local City Councilor John Tobin.
“My prayers are obviously with her,” Tobin said when informed by the Gazette of Michalosky’s current situation. A “separate issue,” he added, is “this revolving door of captains that have come through JP.”
“If it sounds like she’s not coming back to Jamaica Plain, I think the commissioner and the department ought to install a new commander there immediately, and give them more time [in the job] than to have a cup of coffee,” Tobin said.
Tobin praised Kern as “very, very good” and suggested that he could be a good commander.
Michalosky has served on the BPD force for more than 35 years and once included JP in her beat as a patrol officer. She served a prior stint as E-13 commander in 2004-2005.
E-13 covers most of JP, except for Forest Hills and Woodbourne.
According to the Herald, Michalosky’s gift-buying effort on the post-Thanksgiving weekend appeared to be possibly excessive, especially for someone suffering serious illness, and caused concerns that she could be depressed or suicidal. As a police officer, Michalosky was also presumed to be armed with a gun. It is unclear whether police officers formed this concern on their own or whether someone called them.
The BPD Family Assistance Unit reportedly visited Michalosky’s house on Dec. 5 to check on her condition. When officers could not find her, they called for a “tactical operation” to find her, according to the Herald. Somehow, that led to the police raid on the house.
At least a dozen officers from at least six local towns and a full SWAT team sealed off the neighborhood and surrounded Michalosky’s house, according to reports in the Quincy Patriot-Ledger and the Braintree Forum.
Neighbors reportedly said that police told them there was a “hostage situation” and to stay away from windows because someone in Michalosky’s house had a gun. Any residents who were not already at home were barred from entering the street.
Local media described the situation as a “stand-off” and Michalosky as “barricaded in her home.” At some point, the SWAT team—a specially trained and heavily armed group of paramilitary police officers—entered the house.
There are no clear reports on who was in the house; what happened during and after the incident; and the nature of Michalosky’s circumstances afterward.
An article on the Patriot-Ledger/Forum web site quoted neighbor Lou Cicerone as saying he saw a woman he assumed was Michalosky taken from the house and put into an ambulance.
“She was screaming, poor thing,” Cicerone reportedly said. “I couldn’t even make out what she was saying.”
Cicerone did not return a Gazette phone call.
E-13 has had five changes in command in its 12 years of existence—with four of those changes happening in the last four years. Those changes come at the order of the BPD headquarters. BPD officials have said that policing strategies remain the same no matter who leads the station, and that some turnover is intended to prevent burnout.
Aside from official turnover, three of the station’s commanders were on sick leave for extended periods. That includes Michalosky, who reportedly suffered two simultaneously broken wrists during her first stint as commander.
In November 2007, Michalosky returned to E-13 command, replacing Kelley McCormick, who was promoted out of the station after nine months on the job. McCormick also spent a long time on sick leave after donating a kidney to his wife.
Tobin likened the E-13 official turnover rate to “Yankees [baseball team] managers in the 1980s.”
“I got along famously with all of [the E-13 commanders], but the problem is, there’s no stability,” Tobin said. “It takes a long time to build rapport.”
He noted that an ongoing effort to give E-13 responsibility for sections of JP not currently under its jurisdiction might make consistent command all the more important.