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Incoming Police Chief Plans to Increase Community Policing in Downtown Manchester

Courtesy photo

The city of Manchester is getting a new police chief.

Chief Nick Willard has been appointed by President Donald Trump as the next U.S. marshal for New Hampshire.

And now Carlo Capano will take over as chief of police in Manchester on July 1st. He’s served as assistant chief of the department for the past three years. All Things Considered Host Peter Biello spoke with Capano about taking over this new position.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

Let's start by talking about something that's really important to a lot of people. The opioid epidemic is a pressing issue in the state. The effects are easily visible in Manchester. What plans do you have as police chief to continue the department's response to the crisis?

We're going to just continue to work with our drug unit on the enforcement end of things. They've been doing tremendous work dealing with and battling with the opioid crisis. But more importantly, we're going to be working with the city, with the mayor's office, with the health department -- and actually working together to see what we can do to assist with shrinking the addiction pool. And then hopefully as we can shrink the addiction pool, it will be less coming into the city. So the work in the drug unit will be a little bit more sustainable.

When you say addiction pool you mean the number of people who are suffering from addiction right now?

Yes, that's exactly what we're talking about. As long as we have this pool that's just a larger amount of people, we're going to continue to see the influx of the opioids and/or any type of drugs coming into the city.

Is there anything new that you'd be willing to try?

You know what, we're always open to any type of suggestions, but we're just going to be continuing to do what we have been doing -- working with the Health Department, working with the city, trying to see what we can do with Safe Stations over at the fire department. It's very fluid as you know. So it makes it a little bit difficult to predict what you're going to be able to do. But we are and continue to do what we have been doing.

How do you balance combating crime related to opioid and drug abuse and connecting people who need it to recovery services?

We've been saying this all along. You can't arrest your way out of it. As far as the crime goes, obviously as you have any type of drug epidemic you can potentially have higher rates of crime. We're going to continue to work as hard as we can as an agency just to get a grasp on what is going on with the crime. We are doing well so far year-to-date. We're 9 percent down on our part one crime. So that does help us out as far as looking at the statistics and looking at the numbers to know that we are doing a good job as far as keeping track of that.

What would you like to accomplish as police chief?

Chief Willard and I have been doing a tremendous amount of work in the police department, and it's been showing as far as programs that we've been doing. So I really want to just continue to grow on what we have been working on here at the police department. [I'd] like to really enhance the community policing division and work on the downtown area of Manchester. The inner city and the downtown business part is the economic engine for the city. So I'd really like to concentrate on putting some officers down there in a more regular basis, get back to the community policing role that we would have down in that downtown area.

What does the community policing look like?

Well right now we have a community policing division that now we have the officers that are set up throughout the city. So as a community needs something they can go to certain officers that cover that particular area of the city. What I plan on doing with it that's going to enhance us a little bit is we have what we put out is walking beats in the warmer weather. We get a tremendous amount of support from the community with these walking beats just because it adds that level of officers. And it's just not just officers, it's the same officers that the people are seeing down in the inner city. So as they see these officers they get to know them. The officers get to know the businesses, the business owners. So it really enhances the downtown area and gives everybody the feeling of that they're safe with the same officers down there, and they know what's going on in that area of the city.

There's a criminal investigation underway involving two former Manchester police officers Darren Murphy and Aaron Brown. They were both fired earlier this year. Are there any department policies that might need to be revisited and at least re-examined in the wake of these allegations, which at this point are still just allegations?

Right, I can't get too much into detail with that. But with any type of situation that we have, we always come back and circle around and evaluate what our policies, our procedures are. But if we can do anything that is going to prevent any type of situations from happening by putting it into policies, we would certainly be looking at doing something like that.

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