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Salem on ice: Police are shielding public records

September 06. 2018 11:36PM

You have the right to remain silent. The Salem Police Department does not.

Salem officials are working overtime to prevent the public from reading police reports from a December altercation at a Salem ice skating rink.

Several people at the scene of the December scuffle say that police were wrong to arrest and taser youth hockey coach Robert Andersen. In May, police arrested two parents who were present at the scuffle, and prosecutors obtained a gag order from a Superior Court judge preventing release of documents relating to the case.

This week, a new judge called the gag order unconstitutional, so our reporter asked Salem Police to show him the records. The department refused unless the reporter paid a fee for a copy of the reports.

This is contrary to New Hampshire Right-to-Know law, which allows free public inspection of public documents. It should not be too much to expect that the police know the law, and follow it.

Why is the Salem Police Department putting up roadblocks, against the clear wording of New Hampshire statute, to keep the public from finding out what happened at the ice rink in December? Salem Town Manager Chris Dillon and Salem’s selectmen should direct their department to make all relevant records immediately available for public inspection.

Public Safety Editorial

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