They no longer wear badges, but some N.H. ‘Laurie List’ officers are still involved in policing
Misconduct on or off the job can end the career of a New Hampshire police officer, and land their name on the Laurie List. But for some, placement on the list doesn’t appear to end their involvement in law enforcement altogether.
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An NHPR review of the formerly-private list, officially known as the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, shows several people on the Laurie List have found other work in law enforcement.
One former officer from Keene trains police officers across the country, despite being added to the list twice. Another former officer from Middleton is now serving as a police commissioner in Rochester, providing direct oversight to a department. A third former detective on the Laurie List was hired by a county attorney as an investigator.
Despite no longer wearing badges, these former officers with possible credibility concerns related to truthfulness, or in one officer’s case, falsifying records, continue to participate in and influence law enforcement efforts. And they continue to profit from their careers in law enforcement, even though their credibility has been called into doubt by police chiefs, who normally add officers to the list.
“They are in positions that are law enforcement adjacent, and therefore the transparency and knowledge of their prior behaviors and conduct is important for everyone to be aware of,” Tracy Scavarelli, director of legal services for New Hampshire Public Defender, said.
Until the state Attorney General released a partial version of the Laurie List to the public in December, potential employers and voters had no way of knowing the status of the candidate before them. Now, with 90 of the more than 250 names publicly available, a simple internet search can determine if an officer was flagged for misconduct, according to Scavarelli, “so that we are not trusting individuals to self-report.”
From top detective to investigator
Former Keene detective Jim McLaughlin garnered headlines during the course of his more than 40-year career, in large part for his work on child sex crimes, including a high-profile case involving a Catholic priest.
In June 2018, he was added to the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule for falsifying records in 1985. He is currently appealing his status on the list, and no additional information is available about what landed McLaughlin on the list. It also isn’t clear why it took more than 30 years for officials to add his name to the document.
Despite being placed on the list, McLaughlin was hired by the Cheshire County Attorney’s office in 2019 as a part-investigator. While the Laurie List was still confidential at that time, county attorneys are one of the small group of legal professionals in New Hampshire who would likely have been aware of his status on the list.
As a part-time investigator, McLaughlin is currently paid $30,160 by the county to perform many of the tasks a uniformed officer or detective would do, including tracking down witnesses, conducting interviews, obtaining records and listening to jail calls from incarcerated defendants, according to records from the county.
County Attorney Chris McLaughlin (no relation) confirmed Jim McLaughlin is employed by his office, but wouldn’t comment on his status on the Laurie List, noting an appeal is ongoing.
When asked if Jim McLaughlin’s inclusion on the Laurie List is turned over to criminal defendants, as required by long standing U.S. Supreme Court precedent related to the sharing of material potentially beneficial to those accused of crimes, Chris McLaughlin said that his office “always turns over exculpatory material that is in my possession,” but declined to comment specifically on cases involving Jim McLaughlin.
Scavarelli, from the public defender’s office, said inclusion on the list shouldn’t disqualify a former officer from holding the post, but that without the list’s disclosure, there would be no way to guarantee supervisors knew about the conduct, and also that it is being disclosed in court.
“Depending on the reason that the person is placed on the Laurie List — such as falsifying information, untruthfulness — those are concerning behaviors that I think need to be vetted prior to putting someone in a position of power,” she said.
Twice listed, now an instructor
When the New Hampshire Department of Justice released parts of the Laurie List in December, several officers stood out for having been placed on the list on two separate occasions. That included former Keene officer Matthew Griffin, who was added to the list in July of 2017, and then again less than three months later. For both sustained findings, the only public description is “truthfulness” and no dates of the incidents in question are provided.
And yet, Griffin appears to have secured work training other law enforcement officers across the country after he left the Keene Police Department.
The website for Texas-based firm Professional Law Enforcement Training includes a photo of Griffin, and a bio that states he has over three years of experience “and has trained thousands of officers in various topics with exceptional reviews.”
The online biography also states that Griffin is a “reserve police officer with the Spotford Police Department in New Hampshire.” No such town exists in New Hampshire. Spofford, however, is an unincorporated community near Keene that is served by the Chesterfield Police Department. Duane Chickering, the current chief of Chesterfield, said he has never hired an officer by that name.
Griffin didn’t respond to requests for comment, and neither did Professional Law Enforcement Training. It isn’t clear if he disclosed his placement on the Laurie List to the company.
According to his online resume, Griffin is also currently employed by Axon, an Arizona-based company that makes tasers, along with other products marketed to law enforcement. In a Washington Postarticle, an Axon employee named Matthew Griffin is quoted as working on simulation programs related to de-escalation training.
Voters in the dark on police oversight post
In September 2018, David Winship Jr. was added to the Laurie List for what the state Attorney General only categorized as “truthfulness” related to an incident in 2010, while he was serving in the Middleton Police Department. No other information about his conduct has been released, and Winship Jr. is currently appealing his status on the list.
Despite being on the Laurie List, Winship Jr. has twice ran for and won a seat on the Rochester Police Commission, including a narrow victory last November. The position, which pays an annual stipend of $1,200, provides oversight of the Rochester Police Department, including input on the hiring and firing of officers, and the department’s budget.
“I think it should have been disclosed to voters. Unfortunately, it wasn’t,” Chuck Grassie, who lost against Winship Jr. in 2021 for the police commission post representing the city’s Third and Fourth wards, said.
Grassie, who is also a state representative, added that he has concerns that the same possible credibility issues that landed Winship Jr. on the Laurie List could also impact his ability to help regulate the city’s police department.
“If some other officer had a similar type of situation, how would he react? And how would he judge that?” Grassie said.
Winship Jr. didn’t respond to an interview request. Rochester Police Chief Gary Boudreau said he couldn’t comment on individuals who are appealing their status on the list, but did add that “while commissioners have important responsibilities, they do not govern the day to day operations of the agency, nor do they have any police powers.”
Reporter Paul Cuno-Booth contributed to this story.