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Sheriff’s Department Review Finds New London Policies Sound

While deciding to install new cameras inside the police station and police cruisers, the town also recently received a complimentary report from the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Department, which reviewed the Police Department’s policies and procedures at the request of Town Administrator Kim Hallquist and the selectboard.

The review, Hallquist said, was not motivated by Colby-Sawyer College student Janelle Westfall’s allegation against former Police Chief David Seastrand, and did not examine any issues surrounding that matter. Those inquiries, Hallquist said, are the sole purview of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

Rather, Hallquist said, it was done because Seastrand’s abrupt departure after 27 years left town officials without transition memos and other information to facilitate an orderly transition.

The review, done at no cost, examined the staff, policies, and equipment, and suggested that the New London Police Department update some written policies, and possibly add personnel, but praised the department and found no significant areas of concern.

“In my opinion, in regards to the effectiveness and functioning of the New London Police Department,” Merrimack Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Saltmarsh wrote, “it should be clear that the agency, and its members, appear to be well suited and prepared to perform the tasks that are asked of them on a daily basis.”

In his report, issued earlier this month, Saltmarsh said that Acting Police Chief Ed Andersen gave him total access to the department

Saltmarsh recommended the department update its written policies, noting that many had sat on the books for at least 15 years without revision. Though he did not document any specific problems with any policy, he suggested that some placed too much responsibility in the hands of the chief, and recommended that policies allow the chief to designate others in the department to handle certain tasks.

He also praised both Andersen’s proposal to update recording equipment, and the morale of the department.

“Members of this agency were given a very difficult situation to deal with and have handled it with professionalism and a positive attitude,” Saltmarsh wrote. “It was refreshing to hear from members of the agency that, while sad of the situation that brought forth the change, the change itself was good and that they felt the agency could move forward positively and in a proactive way for the community.”

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.

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