Police investigated whether sheriff candidate Kavern Lewis misrepresented himself as officer

  • Kavern Lewis speaks during a forum for candidates running for Hampshire County sheriff Aug. 25 at South Hadley High School. The forum was sponsored by Know Your Town.

Published: 8/30/2016 6:23:49 PM

Seven years ago, Hadley and Amherst police were called to investigate separate reports that Hampshire County sheriff candidate Kavern Lewis was misrepresenting himself as a law enforcement officer, according to police reports obtained by the Gazette. 

In January 2009, Hampshire Mall security officers said Lewis was carrying a gun and a “gold and oval” badge inside the mall, after arriving in a blue 2000 Ford Crown Victoria equipped with special lights and a push-bumper. When questioned by security officers, Lewis reportedly identified himself first as a private investigator and, later, as a state trooper.

During the episode in Amherst five months later, he told a person at Mill Valley Estates that he was an off-duty state trooper after speeding through the apartment complex in the Crown Victoria, according to an Amherst detective’s report. 

Lewis did not face criminal charges in either case. 

In an interview Tuesday, Lewis denied telling anyone he was a law enforcement officer of any kind and said he has never carried a badge or gun.  Massachusetts State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said Tuesday there is no record of Lewis being employed with the agency.

Lewis said he has been stopped many times in the Crown Victoria after police deemed the car suspicious. 

“I’m not gonna lie,” Lewis said. “When you see the vehicle, it looks like a trooper’s vehicle.”

But, he said, the investigating officers found no reason to detain him. 

“Obviously, I wasn’t arrested because they weren’t able to find evidence” that he had misrepresented himself as am officer, Lewis said. 

Nonetheless, Lewis acknowledged that at some point after the Amherst incident, he went to police and apologized for any misunderstanding. 

Details of the 2009 incidents come in the wake of an Aug. 26 Gazette article raising questions about Lewis’ claims of a decade of significant law enforcement experience. In that article, officials at the government law enforcement agencies where Lewis said he served reported that they had no record of him being employed there, that his tenure was brief, or that his status as an “honorary” deputy involved paying a fee and volunteering for community outreach. 

Hadley case

On Jan. 4, 2009, Hadley Police were dispatched to the Hampshire Mall for a report of an individual in the mall carrying a gun and badge, according to the police report, which the Gazette obtained through a public records request. Security officers recognized the man as Lewis, who had recently applied for a security position at the mall. 

The security officers asked Lewis why he was in the mall with a badge and gun, the report says. He initially told them he was a “private investigator.” 

The officers then advised Lewis, who was 21 at the time, that he was on private property and could not carry a weapon on mall property. He later contacted the mall security officers to say that he was “a state police officer and therefore has the right to carry his weapon when needed,” the report states. 

One of the security officers told officials that, earlier, a Best Buy security officer had spotted Lewis’ firearm and asked if it was real. 

“Does it look real?” Lewis replied, according to the police report. 

The mall’s director of security told police a no-trespass order would immediately be issued to Lewis barring him from the property. 

Hadley Sgt. Mitchell Kuc, who investigated the incident in January 2009, said Tuesday that he could not recall why police did not proceed further with the investigation. According to Kuc’s report, a background check of Lewis at the time revealed that he had a suspended South Carolina driver’s license and non-extraditable warrant from that state, as well as no firearms or driver’s license in Massachusetts. 

Hadley PD Incident Report Involving Kavern Lewis by Newspapers of New England on Scribd

Amherst case

Nearly five months later, on May 29, 2009, Amherst police responded to a report of a “fake cop car” cruising around the Mill Valley apartment complex, according to a detectives’ report obtained through a public records request.

A witness told police Lewis had been speeding around the apartment complex and swerving to avoid speed bumps, on an evening when children were riding bicyles across the pavement. Lewis told the witness he was an “off-duty state trooper,” the report states.

The witness, who is not named in the report, was skeptical and asked Lewis to produce a badge or official identification, the report states. Lewis said he did not have any documentation, but assured the witness that he was a law enforcement official.

Shortly thereafter, two Amherst detectives spotted the unoccupied dark blue Crown Victoria with its “deeply” tinted windows, push bar, driver’s side spotlight and what appeared to be a special lighting system with blue lights, according to the report. 

After talking with witnesses, the report said, officers saw Lewis walking toward the Crown Victoria with an unidentified female.

When the officers approached, Lewis denied telling anyone he was a law enforcement official. Police warned him about his vehicle operation and sent him on his way, the report said. 

The Amherst detective who handled the case could not be reached for comment. But his report provided a striking detail: Inside Lewis’ car, a witness told police, was a portable radio and a pair of handcuffs.

Amherst PD Incident Report Involving Kavern Lewis by Newspapers of New England on Scribd

Michael Majchrowicz can be reached at mmajchrowicz@gazettenet.com or 413-585-5234.

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