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Croydon police vote still murky after Selectboard meeting, prompting petition

  • Croydon residents ask members of the Selectboard to formally take up the issue of the police chief's job during a meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in, Croydon, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Croydon Police Chief Richard Lee, left, speaks to Jason Rook, Croydon Deputy Fire Chief during the Selectboard meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Croydon, N.H. Residents voted on Town Meeting Day to phase out the Croydon Police Department. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Selectboard Administrative Assistant Cathy Peschke listens to Selectman Gary Quimby during a Selectboard meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. Quimby was not able to attend the meeting and was speaking to the board via speaker phone. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/27/2019 10:10:59 PM
Modified: 3/28/2019 10:12:29 AM

CROYDON — After an hour of refusing to discuss a Town Meeting vote that could phase out the town’s police department, the Selectboard accepted a petition from residents requesting a special meeting to clarify the vote.

The petition, which had more than 100 signatures and was submitted by Brenda Williams, sought more information on an article on the March warrant that would have the town contract with the Newport Police Department and do away with Croydon’s.

That vote passed, but several people have since said they were confused about what they were voting on and want the matter clarified.

The Selectboard’s refusal to take up the topic on Wednesday night prompted the roughly 60 residents in attendance to continually speak out and press newly elected board members Joe Marko and Reagan Clarke on the topic.

Chairman Gary Quimby wasn’t physically present at the meeting, but he remained dialed in via telephone with Selectboard Administrative Assistant Cathy Peschke relaying some of his comments to those in the town house.

“Nothing is going to be addressed until all of us are sitting here ...,” Marko told the crowd at the outset of the meeting, referring to Quimby’s absence.

“So, is this meeting useless?” Jim Bridgeo yelled out.

“Yup,” Marko replied.

But the majority of the residents stayed and watched the Selectboard sign various unrelated documents for about an hour until the board recognized Williams to speak.

Williams read the petition aloud, which seeks a special town meeting to ask residents “whether the town shall vote to enter into a contract with the town of Newport, N.H., to provide police services for the year of 2019,” according to the petition. If the vote failed, Croydon would keep its police department.

People in town have different interpretations of what unfolded on the topic at Town Meeting and whether the vote that was taken was binding. The special meeting would clarify all aspects of policing in town, Williams said Wednesday.

In a prior interview, Quimby said the board made the motion at the annual meeting to switch to Newport police, and he contends it was binding. But resident Domenic Di Maggio said he made the motion and it was meant only to be advisory.

Some residents have expressed complaints about the way Croydon Police Chief Richard Lee allocates his time, among other things, and they want a change, while others think he is the best option for the small town. Lee attended the meeting but didn’t speak.

Dozens of people in attendance on Wednesday clapped loudly after Williams read the petition.

Di Maggio asked the board for a date or timeframe for a special meeting, but Marko said he couldn’t provide that information at this time.

Attorney Michael Shklar, who helped draft the petition and attended the Selectboard meeting on Wednesday night, said afterward that the town of Croydon, by law, now has to hold a special meeting on the topic.

Asked after the meeting, Marko said he wasn’t sure about that.

“I know absolutely nothing,” he said.

The board initially wanted to wait to take up the matter until an outside review of the police department was completed.

Prior to Williams’ reading of the petition, residents Tom Howard and Doug Curtis questioned the board about setting agendas for the board meetings. There was no agenda posted for Wednesday night’s meeting. Asked afterward, Marko said the board doesn’t set agendas and he would like to change that.

At one point during the meeting, Marko attempted to go into executive session to finish routine business, but when asked to cite the exception that allowed him to do that, he proceeded in public session.

Peschke, the Selectboard administrator, said she plans to present the petition to the town clerk and “we will go from there.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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