The Barrington community was shocked to learn of the sudden death of retired Barrington Police officer Joseph E. “Joe” Pine Jr., who passed from this world unexpectedly on May 27. He was …
The Barrington community was shocked to learn of the sudden death of retired Barrington Police officer Joseph E. “Joe” Pine Jr., who passed from this world unexpectedly on May 27. He was 77 years of age.
For those of us who remember Joe, there were times he could make you laugh at the drop of a hat. There were also times when he would look you straight in the eye and put you in in his comfort zone.
Said former Barrington resident and R.I. Probate Judge Association president Marvin Homonoff (who also officiated at the wedding of Joe and the former Judy DeSpirito), “Joe was a quiet man with a strong moral core and a willingness to help people in any way he could.”
Growing up in neighboring Bristol, where he became a “legend” amongst family and friends in his old neighborhood near the corner of Wood and Catherine Street, Joe was quite a kid. He’d have his mother yelling at him from their second story window almost on a daily basis because he wouldn’t listen to her advice on any matter. Joe was his own person…plain and simple. And no one could change that, at least as a youngster.
A little later on in his young life, Joe became involved with the drum and bugle corps movement and joined the renowned Bristol Kingsmen, a musical organization which won many junior drum corps contests in the 1950s and ‘60s. Even during a recent get-together at an area coffee shop, Joe was recalling those glory days when music was as much embedded in his blood as his frequent visits to the Bristol Town Common where his neighborhood gang hung out for a little game of Hi-Lo-Jack.
Those were his free spirit days, but things changed dramatically when he joined the Army Reserve, and later, the Barrington Police Department, where his entire persona was reshaped. He dedicated 27 years of his life working as a patrolman and senior citizen liaison officer before retiring in 2002. He was later employed as a security guard at Twin River Casino and was also honored to be appointed to the position of bailiff for the Barrington Municipal Court.
Joe was also a proud member of the Massasoit Gun Club and Barrington United Veterans Coalition. He also was proud of his cooking talents, which ranged far and wide...especially from an Italian perspective (thanks to his mother, the late Gilda (Proto) Pine), who was a renowned cook in her own right.
In speaking to retired Chief John LaCross about Joe’s service career, he had this to say:
“Joe … was a “well-seasoned police officer with 28 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Barrington.”
He added, “Joe was the epitome of a ‘community policing’ officer with a high work ethic which gained the trust and respect of business owners and residents. Joe had already developed a community partnership.”
The Chief said he never asked Joe to "run radar" on the busy streets of Barrington because he knew Joe had a better gift of communication to serve the community by listening and helping the citizens with their complaints.
According to Captain Kevin Igoe, Joe started the police department's first Explorer's Program for the Barrington youth which teaches young students the values and skills needed in a law enforcement career. Captain Igoe also recalled Joe working on and developing the first "Emergency Dialer" for the blind because of an explorer student who was blind.
The Chief also said that he heard Joe was the police officer who stopped the car and arrested Christopher Hightower on County Road after Hightower had killed the Brendel family in 1991.
“It was said back then that Joe never received a Formal Commendation or notoriety for this arrest but that didn't faze Joe because he knew that was his job,” noted Chief LaCross.
The Chief said he had asked Joe in July of 2013, to come out of his retirement and become the "Bailiff" for the first ever Barrington Municipal Court.
“Joe's people skills along with his physical presence and deep baritone voice, was the perfect fit,” he said. “Joe was honored to take the position and asked for a white police shirt, unlike the tradition navy blue, and put his old badge number on it. Hundreds of Barrington residents who went before the Court will always remember Joe and respect him for this position.”
Chief LaCross enjoyed working with Joe for the next six years in the Court and said he served both positions with a “compassionate heart.”
Joe Pine had as many friends as you would expect, but none closer than his longtime pal, fellow police officer, and brother-in-law, Bart “Bubby” Stanzione. Together, along with other fellow Barrington Police retirees would go out for coffee and breakfast on occasion, talking about the good old days.
“I’ve known Joe most of my life,” said Bart Stanzione, “from a very young age, though we did not hang around together then. It was really many years later when he joined the Barrington Police Force and I had been there a couple of years that we developed the friendship that we had. Working together we formed a close bond which continued to this day. I had a lot of good times with him, as he was an easy person to be around. We had a lot of laughs, and he never got mad. When Joe married Judy it was the catalyst for Joe and I to be in the other's company more often as we had become part of the same family. Joe and I would go out for coffee often, usually on Federal Hill, where we became ‘regulars’.
“We joined the gun club, went every week, usually hooking up with other retired members of the Barrington Police Force, and afterwards, we would all go to IHOP for breakfast and reminisce about the ‘job’, old adventures which were both scary and/or hilarious.”
He concluded, “Joe was a kind person, a man of great faith, strong family values, and always willing to help, assist or volunteer if something had to be done. He will be missed.”
Retired Barrington police Chief Dino DeCrescenzo said Joe was as good a cop as you’ll find anywhere.
“He was heavy with the Police Explorer Program that was big back in the 1980s,” he said. “He ran those classes and did a great job, and was involved with the Neighborhood Watches. He got the community involved. He also started the Emergency Dialer System. That was huge. Joe was just a great guy.”
Sgt. Richard McInnis, who retired from the Barrington force in 1999, was another advocate of Joe Pine’s dedication to law enforcement.
“He was very personable, and after retirement, we frequently saw him and shared stories,” Sgt. McInnis said. “He was just a great guy.”
Over in Warren, retired police officer Michael Clancy said he was very sad to hear of Joe Pine’s passing.
“He was very dependable and a great asset to his department,” he said. “He was loved and respected by his fellow officers and the citizens that he served. It was a pleasure to know him. My relationship with Joe began with my early career days working for the RI State Park Police where I would connect with him at Haines State Park in Barrington and then continued when I joined the Warren Police. I will miss him.”
Bob Casale, another retired Barrington Police sergeant, added, “Joe and I were long-time friends. He was a real gentleman and a sweetheart of a guy. He will be dearly missed.”
From his New Hampshire home, retired Barrington Sgt. Steve MacDonald said it best. “Joe was an advocate for those who are often on the sidelines. He did such an exceptional job and he did it from the heart.”
In recent years, Joe thoroughly enjoyed his role in the kitchen helping with his fellow cooks, including wife, Judy, and committee members with the successful Holy Angels Church Take-Out Thursday food sale.
Local resident Barbara St. Angelo was stunned when she heard of Joe’s sudden death.
“We had just finished working together in the Holy Angels Church basement with the most recent Take-Out Thursday food orders and two days later, he was gone. Joe was always a quiet guy. It’s going to be hard to work without him in the future.”