Moultonborough Citizens Alliance
PO Box 678
Moultonboro, NH 03254
MCA is concerned about citizens rights, sensible spending, private property issues, etc and we have contacted the Selectmen, by email, and asked them to discuss SWAT Teams at their next meeting. We have asked that our Police Chief Scott Kinmond be at that meeting to give his comments about SWAT teams in NH and if our town is involved. The citizens of Moultonborough would like to be informed about this subject and all we know is the information from the two below articles. The Selectmen have agreed to discuss this subject at their 11-6-2008 meeting at 7PM in the town hall and we hope you will attend.
Please see these articles:
October 5, 2008 – Amid questions, regional SWAT comes under review
The State Attorney General’s Office has asked for an outside review of all regional special operations units following its investigation into an officer-involved shooting in Charlestown.
Deputy Attorney General Orville “Bud” Fitch read a statement from Attorney General Kelly Ayotte to the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council and told the council “it might be very helpful to law enforcement in general to have a professional, neutral set of recommendations…,” according to the minutes of an Aug. 26 meeting.
“With the increased use of these teams, not only for barricade/hostage situations but in some cases for crowd control, high risk arrests and drug raids, we feel it would be beneficial for law enforcement and the public to have an outside expert complete an independent review of the training and model standards for operational protocols of those teams,” wrote Ayotte.
In a separate matter, but also one that has garnered a significant amount of media coverage, a former Bristol family is suing the Central New Hampshire Special Operations and the Bristol Police Department, claiming its civil rights were violated during the early-morning August 2006 arrest of their son, Michael Rothman, in their home.
Special operations units and groups have proliferated in the state since the challenges of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the increased availability of Department of Homeland Security grants. In New Hampshire, there are 10 regional teams plus a N.H. State Police unit. Six of the regional organizations are non-profits that operate with an independent board of directors.
In central New Hampshire, there are three special operations units — the Belknap County Special Operations Unit, the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit (CNHSOU) and the N.H. State Police SWAT. The State Police team was formed in 1971, while the Central New Hampshire unit was formed in 2001 and Belknap County’s in 2002.
The Belknap County team is run by Sheriff Craig Wiggin and is overseen by the county police chiefs who meet monthly and review processes and procedures.
“We here in Belknap County welcome the review and look at it as an opportunity,” said Wiggin, who is a former major with the N.H. State Police.
Formed with a $400,000 federal grant obtained by former Sheriff Dan Collis, Wiggin said the Belknap County Team went on 12 calls last year and nine so far this year — including one last week in Gilford where it assisted local police in a situation where a man threatened to harm himself and was washing down prescription medication with alcohol.
“That guy didn’t even know we were there,” said Wiggin, relating that the man unknowingly stepped out of his house and was taken into custody without incident.
“Maybe we do know what we’re doing,” said Wiggin, adding that special operations are not anything like their depiction on television or in the movies. He said it often requires a great deal of patience and an understanding of the situation at hand.
He said he did not want to comment on either the Charlestown or the Bristol incidents because he was not there, does not know the facts and trusts the legal and police community to sort it all out.
Under local scrutiny is the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit, an 85-member-strong team that comprises officers from 43 communities in mostly Grafton, Carroll, and Merrimack counties and is commanded by Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier.
Cormier said his team is more than a SWAT team and responds to other emergencies. The unit was in Epsom and Deerfield during the July tornado and recently participated in a search-and-rescue operation in Hanover.
Cormier said it formed in the wake of the 1997 Colebrook murders of two state troopers, a judge and a newspaper editor who were shot and killed in a shooting rampage that also wounded three other state troopers.
After considerable discussion, Tilton selectmen recently voted, 4-1, to join the Central New Hampshire unit, becoming the first Belknap County community to do so, even though those services are available through Wiggin’s team.
“It’s a duplication of services,” said dissenting selectman Katherine Dawson. “If we have an incident, there’s Belknap County and the State Police. If someone is lost, there’s [the Department of] Fish and Game.”
Minutes from the Aug. 14 meeting indicate there are three Tilton police officers on the special operations unit and Dawson said her understanding is that Tilton will no longer participate on the Belknap County team.
For the balance of this year, Tilton School Headmaster Jim Clements said his school would pay the $2,500 membership fee but Dawson said she has many more questions to ask before she recommends the town continue in the relationship, not the least of which is that the $400,000 grant for the Belknap County team is expended and there will be a line item in Wiggin’s budget request.
“I don’t think taxpayers should pay for it twice,” Dawson said.
“I don’t know how much I will ask for,” Wiggin said Wednesday, but he also said it would be for maintenance of equipment already owned by the team and some training expenses for its members. “I expect it to be around $10,000 but I have to discuss it with the commissioners.”
Franklin’s acting police chief, Rod Forey, whose wife is second-in-command with the N.H. State Police and is a retired State Police commander, said he, too, considers it a duplication of effort and will not join the Central New Hampshire team or use its services, and he said he has some questions about liability.
“It’s economics,” said Forey, stressing that his community does not have the money or the manpower to send officers to training or to compensate them for membership in one of the special units.
Although it was before Forey’s time, in July 2006, the State Police SWAT team successfully negotiated the peaceful surrender of Susan Disharoon, who shot and killed her Franklin landlord and held police at bay for more than nine hours.
“When I call the State Police [SWAT], they assume all the liability,” Forey said.
Cormier said there has been some recent confusion about the Central New Hampshire unit’s liability insurance.
“Our team is insured for $2 million,” said Cormier, explaining that, once the team is deployed, it is responsible and its memoranda of understanding with the individual communities are much like mutual aid agreements.
As to the independent review, Cormier said he thinks it is a great idea and welcomes it.
“Anything that makes us better at our job is good,” he said in noting that other states, including California, have performed similar reviews.
The N.H. Police Standards and Training Council reviewed the request for proposal at its September meeting and the text will be finalized in October before it goes out for bid.
Draft minutes of the September meeting say the focus of the review would be to examine “best practices” and whether or not there should be standardized rules for all of the state’s special operation units.
The draft minutes said the study could cost between $2,000 and $7,000 and “…the council should approach the study with an open mind, without being limited or restricted based on potential costs.”
August 30, 2008 – NH State Police director wants SWAT team review
LEBANON (AP) – The director of the New Hampshire State Police believes an independent and wide-ranging review of SWAT teams is needed in the wake of events that led to last month’s shooting death of a Charlestown man and wounding of a state trooper.
An “outside source” of law-enforcement expertise should be asked to evaluate the state’s six nonprofit regional SWAT teams, whose total of about 200 officers operate under independent boards of directors, State Police Col. Frederick Booth said.
The review should also include larger cities’ tactical units and the state police’s 25-member SWAT team, Booth said Thursday.
“What may come out of that examination is that you have six different units operating around the state under a different set of standards,” Booth said. “And the question that may come out of that is should there be a standard set of training that each SOU (special operations unit) member needs to meet in order to be a team member? I think that’s a positive first step.”
One of the regional teams, the Western New Hampshire Special Operations Unit of Sullivan County, was involved in the Charlestown incident July 26.
The 16-member team has been in “stand-down position” since then and will remain deactivated until further review of the incident is complete, said Claremont Police Chief Alexander Scott, who sits on the unit’s board of directors.
At the Charlestown incident, amid confusion over the chain of command and lack of understanding of the potentially lethal nature of their mission, officers tried to storm the camper occupied by 53-year-old Anthony Jarvis. The police had come to Jarvis’ residence to arrest his son, Jesse Jarvis, 26, who was wanted for allegedly stealing a flag and resisting arrest.
Anthony Jarvis shot state police trooper Phillip Gaiser in the leg before Gaiser returned fire, killing Jarvis. Springfield Police Chief Timothy Julian, who entered after Gaiser, also fired at least three shots in the camper. A report from New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte released Wednesday found that Gaiser and Julian were justified in the use of deadly force, but suggested the state’s Police Standards and Training Council review police decision-making and tactics in the incident.
Booth questioned the role played by Gaiser, who is not a member of the state police SWAT team, in the incident.
“He was an on-duty individual that responded to back up the people that were there,” Booth said.
“He really shouldn’t have been involved in it at all. He was just there as perimeter coverage.”
Booth’s comments followed an earlier interview with the Valley News in which he cited multiple “concerns” about the training, experience level and structure of the regional teams, which are incorporated as nonprofits and provide emergency-response services such as search-and-rescue or disaster relief in addition to SWAT team functions.
Booth said the state police SWAT team has significantly more experience than any one regional team, responding to about 22 SWAT calls per year.
By contrast, most regional teams respond to no more than a dozen calls in a year.