A Week of Turmoil and Violence: N.H. Perspective
New Hampshire reacts to the Dallas police shootings and what motivated them. We'll get a Granite State view on the national debate over race, policing and guns. We'll talk with those most involved -- from New Hampshire law enforcement....to minority community activists.....and get their ideas for a way out of this cycle of violence and turmoil.
- Lt. Patrick Cheetham, ? patrol lieutenant in his 14th year with the Londonderry Police Department and 1st Vice President of the N.H. Police Association. He has also served as detective, field training officer, detective sergeant, and crisis (SWAT) negotiator.
- Woullard Lett, President of Manchester NAACP.
- Chief David Mara, Portsmouth Chief of Police and former Chief of Police in Manchester.
- Pastor Bertha Perkins, New Fellowship Baptist Church in Nashua.
One of the ways that the police department builds trust in the community, and one of the ways that the communities build good relationships with the police, is that we stand together against inappropriate conduct, inappropriate behavior -Woullard Lett, Manchester NAACP
The events of the last week — an attack on police officers in Dallas, and the deaths of two black men during encounters with police in Louisiana and Minnesota — have resonated here in New Hampshire, according to local officials who weighed in during Monday’s edition of The Exchange.
“I always look at our state, New Hampshire, we’re a small state. We’re a state where if we get enough people together we can prevent problems from coming here, or solve problems that have already manifested here,” said Portsmouth Police Chief David Mara, who also previously served as Manchester’s police chief. “So what I’m looking at is: How can we prevent something like this from happening in New Hampshire? How can we prevent discord between some members of the community?”
Woullard Lett, the president of the Manchester branch of the NAACP, said the police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge and St. Paul are part of a longer-running of unequal treatment in America — but those issues are becoming more visible now at least in part because of the ease with which these instances can be shared via cellphone video.
“Even many of the problems we are talking about now, particularly with the police, are more and more front and center because they are being recorded, because of cell phone recording,” Lett said. ”It’s not that they’re new, they’re long standing problems, but now they are reaching the public consciousness because they are very direct.” But, Lett said, there are ways for both police officers and their communities to build better relationships with one another.
“One of the ways that the police department builds trust in the community, and one of the ways that the communities build good relationships with the police, is that we stand together against inappropriate conduct, inappropriate behavior,” Lett said.
That’s something that Lt. Patrick Cheetham said his department is trying to work on in Londonderry. Cheetham said his department tries to be vigilant against misconduct by fully vetting any complaint made against officers.
“Something that we strongly encourage and practice on a daily basis is open, honest dialogue with our community,” said Cheetham, who also serves as the Vice President of the NH Police Association.
Mara echoed the importance of keeping an open dialogue with the community.
“If people feel from media accounts, video, that this is something systematic throughout law enforcement that is something, that perception is something that we need to deal with,” Mara said. “And that does come down to you need to have that open dialogue; you need to be able to address the community and interact.”
The Exchange is New Hampshire’s only locally produced live call-in show. Join the discussion weekdays live at 9 a.m. and again at 8, or comment below, on Facebook, or via Twitter.
-by Sam Routhier, Exchange Intern