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Gov. Sununu Signs Police Accountability Bills Into Law

Governor Sununu sits at a desk signing documents while police officers and men in suits watch from behind him.
Jackie Harris
/
Governor Sununu signs bills on police transparency into law Wednesday at the Police Standards & Training building.

The new laws are the result of recommendations from a commission on police accountability and transparency.

A list of police officers with credibility issues will be released to the public after Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill into law Wednesday that lays out a timetable for officers to challenge their inclusion.

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The exculpatory evidence schedule, better known as the “Laurie List,” has been the subject of a long-running debate, and a Supreme Court case, in New Hampshire. It contains the names of more than 250 officers who have been deemed by their police chiefs to have credibility issues based on their conduct, as well as a short description of their actions.

During a bill signing ceremony, Attorney General John Formella says the law ended up as a compromise that gives law enforcement the ability to challenge their inclusion on the list before a judge.

“So the compromise is that the list will ultimately be made public,” Formella said. “But it will only be made public after officers who are either on the list, or officers who might go on the list in the future, have exhausted their due process rights.”

On Wednesday, Sununu also signed into law a measure that will open up police disciplinary hearings to the public, similar to how disciplinary hearings for doctors, nurses and other licensed professionals are handled in the state.

The new laws are the result of recommendations from the LEACT Commission, which was formed to improve police accountability and transparency in New Hampshire after the murder of George Floyd.

Joseph Lascaze is a LEACT Commission member from the New Hampshire ACLU. He’s pleased that the Laurie List and disciplinary hearings will now be public.

“When an officer is getting decertified, that shouldn't be private,” said Lascaze. “That's public, and it's all about accountability and transparency.”

But Lascaze expressed disappointment that a provision to collect race and ethnicity data on arrests was watered down into a study committee by lawmakers.

“Data gives you information,” Lascaze said. “You can't make any informed decisions without data, so why wouldn't we want data? What does New Hampshire have to hide that we don't want this data out there?”

SB 96 will instead establish a committee on the collection of data on race and ethnicity on state IDs.

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