NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. --
The push-up punishment has been fodder for talk radio and the water cooler. But regardless of what the public says, North Providence's mayor and police chief said they are not happy.
They say they've worked years to clean up the town's reputation and that they are disappointed to have it tarnished by this.
"This is not a day in age where you can take the law into your own hands," Mayor Charles Lombardi said Monday.
The mayor is talking about a decision made by four North Providence police officers. Instead of arresting the five teens for alleged property vandalism, the youngsters were asked to do push-ups as punishment.
It was videotaped by a resident of Mark Street on Friday morning, and an internal investigation is now under way.
"I would support suspension, but I will also err on and respect what the chiefs feel is the right discipline for the officers," Lombardi said.
The police chief isn't weighing in on the matter just yet.
"I want to reserve my opinion until we do a fair and thorough investigation, once we examine all of the facets of this," acting Chief Paul Martellini said.
According to the police report, the incident started at 18 Springdale Ave. The owner of the home looked out and said she saw several teenagers attempting to vandalize her mailbox using a long white reflector. She called police, and the teens were pulled over several blocks away.
"And by the way, we have received a number of calls from constituents and taxpayers in town that think that police officers did the right thing," Lombardi said.
NBC 10 tried to talk to the parents of an 18-year-old suspect in the case, but no one was home.
And around town, many residents have their own opinions.
"I think the police did the right thing. They disciplined the kids. They weren't smart alecks. They admitted to their faults," said Mark Rotondi of North Providence.
"I know if it was my kid, I wouldn't want to see them go to jail for something like this, but I would want to see him reprimanded," said Michael Lepore of North Providence.
The woman whose mailbox was vandalized was not home. Police said she didn't want to press charges because the mailbox wasn't destroyed.
It's unclear how long the North Providence police internal affairs investigation will take, but the chief said because union attorneys are involved, it could be a while.