The ACLU of New Hampshire and the Union Leader Corporation have filed a right-to-know lawsuit against the town of Salem.
The lawsuit requests the unredacted version of documents related to an internal audit from Kroll, Inc. of the Salem Police Department, which revealed widespread problems at the department, including failure to investigate citizen complaints, inconsistencies in timekeeping and pay practices, and antagonism with citizens and town management.
Salem released most - though not all - of the Kroll report to the public on November 23.
The ACLU lawsuit argues that information about police performance on the job is not confidential and says releasing the full report will restore public trust in the police and the town.
In an email to NHPR, Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director, wrote that the town's secrecy surrounding the full report "prevents taxpayers from fully evaluating whether the Department is taking corrective measures consistent with the Report’s findings and recommendations. Secrecy also undermines the very goal of the Report to inspire public confidence in the Department and the Town’s leadership."
Salem says it is in the process of implementing the report's recommendations, with the help of an outside contractor, and is searching for a new Chief of Police, after the resignation of Chief of Police Paul Donovan in early December.
The redacted report is also the subject of a motion from attorneys representating Robert Anderson, a youth hockey coach who was charged with simple assualt, criminal threatening, and resisting arrest by Salem Police in December 2017. Anderson filed a citizen complaint, which the Kroll report reveals was closed within 24 hours.
Anderson's attorney, former Attorney General Michael Delaney, says part of the redacted report includes information about the incident and the police's mishandling of Anderson's complaint. He has requested the full report, saying the state is legally obligated to disclose information favorable to the defendant.