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Perjured police? In NH, they can keep their jobs
You might be shocked to learn that law enforcement officers in New Hampshire can commit perjury and keep their jobs. They also can stay on the job if they have records of theft or fraud. How does anyone find this acceptable?
Former Attorney General Peter Heed set a policy in 2004 that required his office to keep track of these officers. Despite the policy, the AG’s office does not have a complete list, which is something Attorney General Michael Delaney should fix. The list is to be kept because if any of these officers has to testify at trial, the judge could decide that the defense must be notified about the officer’s past deceptions. That could weaken the state’s cases against defendants.
The public, though, does not get notification. The state considers the information part of each officer’s personnel file, which is shielded from the state’s right-to-know law. Court records, though, are public. The New Hampshire Sunday News used those records to learn that State Police Trooper Derek Holston has kept his job — and has continued to testify in court — after he committed perjury during a 2008 hearing. Holston received an 11-day unpaid suspension. His appeal of that suspension was public record.
The people ought to know what types of crimes their law enforcement officers are allowed to commit and still keep their jobs. They also ought to know who those officers are, and what punishment, if any, they receive. We are not talking about personnel infractions, but crimes, here.
Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice said it would be unfortunate if this situation makes people think New Hampshire is full of bad cops. Agreed. But it also is unfortunate that a) we don’t know how many police have these credibility issues, and b) officers can commit perjury or other serious crimes and still remain on the job.
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