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Letter: A Happy Ending in Grantham

To the Editor:

In the small town of Grantham, where I grew up, I always felt police officers were there to serve and protect — not to bully, be threatening or to show their power over others. Recently, I witnessed one officer in town exhibit the latter attributes. I haven’t interacted with other Grantham officers, but am hopeful this is not the norm.

For the last eight years, I have organized a craft fair at Town Hall. Vendors arrive at 7 a.m., and the fair runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shoppers come from near and far and support the local economy. As is customary after the numerous activities I’ve been involved with at the hall, people back their cars to the entrance to quickly load their vehicles and depart. This year, I was alerted that an officer was giving a vendor a ticket for doing just that. A cruiser was parked behind my vendor’s car, and she was informed that she was being recorded. I asked the officer if a ticket was necessary; the parking lot was deserted and the event was over. He said, “Look at the sign” and pointed to the door, which was open wide, hiding the 8.5-by-11-inch paper. The sign explained fines could be given for parking there without a placard. The first offense: $50 to $100.

My vendor was in tears and was told to wait inside. After about 10 to 15 minutes, the officer came in to deliver a $310 ticket! He didn’t offer compassion or explanation; he just walked out and drove away. I truly feel that a verbal warning would have sufficed. Officers give warnings for speeding and other infractions. Why is this different?

After feeling helpless and venting about what had happened to friends on Facebook, many felt anger and compassion and wanted to help pay the fine. Donations are rolling in! The generosity of people (in this economy and right before the holidays) is heartwarming! The spirit is truly alive in this season of giving. If anything, I hope you take away the good from this story, as it most certainly outweighs the bad.

Kristy Heath

Springfield, N.H.