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Proposed Legislation Would Mandate Disclosure of Police Misconduct in N.H.

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A group of lawmakers want to create a uniform statewide policy for how local law enforcement officers respond to misconduct within the force, including mandating public disclosure of any allegations. 

Under a billcoming up for debate next session, police officers in New Hampshire would be required to notify their chief when they see a fellow officer violate policy, from tampering with evidence to assaulting a suspect.

After reporting the incident, the Attorney General would review the claim and then release the findings to the public after six months.

“We have a tremendous amount of great policemen. We really do. Sadly, there are a few bad apples,” says Rep. John Burt, a Republican from Goffstown, who is the measure’s lead sponsor. 

Burt says the measure will face opposition from police leadership. The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Currently, allegations or findings of misconduct by officers generally remain confidential. A number of media organizations as well as the ACLU of New Hampshiresued the state over the so-called ‘Laurie List’ containing the names of officers accused of wrongdoing. That suit is now before the N.H. Supreme Court. 

Burt says his motivation for writing the bill is to change what he believes is a misguided culture where officers protect each other, even in the face of criminality.

“You don’t tell on another fellow co-worker. That union, or thin blue line, or whatever the line is that they want to call, but you don’t do that,” he says.

The measure has a number of Republican co-sponsors. Burt says he believes the bill can generate bipartisan support. 

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.
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