Letter: Kenyon Is Wrong About Diversion
To the Editor:
Jim Kenyon’s May 19 column, “Power Play,” on Hanover Alcohol Diversion, a program I helped start, is based on incomplete information. The program was never designed to “make money for the town,” to “pump up the town coffers” or for Hanover Police to go on a “power trip.” In 1986, then Police Chief Kurt Schimke asked me to develop an educational alternative to court for first-time offenders arrested for alcohol possession. Many of these offenders were high school students who went to court and paid a fine. As Schimke said, nobody benefited from that experience — neither the offender nor the community. At our first session we had 10 high school students who had been arrested at an unsupervised gathering where alcohol was present.
When I retired in 2005, the program was “moved” to the Hanover Police Department. Today the program still provides an opportunity for a young person to assess his or her relationship with alcohol. There always has been a price tag — the same amount as the fine the offender would have to pay if found guilty in court.
A cautionary note regarding the Dartmouth student’s case: There is always more than one side to a story. Fortunately, Hanover Police Captain Frank Moran understands the concept of confidentiality.
Kenyon recommends that “Dartmouth decide which sanctions and educational programs are appropriate.” Should the underage alcohol user from Lebanon or White River Junction in Hanover on a Saturday night be arrested and not, therefore, the Dartmouth student? Is the Kenyon, who criticizes any semblance of wealth and privilege, advocating that the Dartmouth student receive special treatment?
The fees collected by the program are a function of the number of offenders, of which there are many, and not because the Hanover Police Department is in the substance-abuse business. Instead of criticizing the people we hire to enforce New Hampshire laws, maybe Kenyon could write an article about why young people sometimes drink to excess, how we can best support them in making better choices, why the drinking age is 21, etc. That would certainly be within his power.
Dena B. Romero
Hanover Community Counselo, 1984 - 2005
This letter has been amended to correct an earlier error. Dena Romero served as Hanover community counselor from 1984 to 2005. An earlier version omitted the years of her service.