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February 19. 2014 7:43PM

House committee votes to study bill that would ban police who lie

CONCORD — The House wants to study a bill that would prohibit any police officer convicted of perjury, lying under oath or falsifying records from being a police officer ever again.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee said the proposal could make crime victims’ confidential records public.

And other supporters of sending House Bill 1204 to interim study, often a polite death in the second year of a Legislature, say current policies make it difficult for dishonest officers to continue to do their job.

But opponents asked why send the message there is nothing wrong with lying if you are a police officer.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Frank Sapareto, R-Derry, said what he is proposing is simple and does not need more study.

“We need a study committee to see if we want law enforcement officers honest or not?” Sapareto said. “We need to study whether officers accused of lying under oath or falsifying statements (should continue to serve) as law enforcement officers?”

He said he is in favor of honest police officers and honest legislators. “If found guilty of perjury or false swearing you cannot be a police officer in the State of New Hampshire,” he said. “It doesn’t get any simpler than this.”

But supporters of more study said it is already state policy that the names of officers who have been accused of lying under oath or fillng false reports are placed on the “Laurie List” kept by the attorney general and available to defense counsel in any criminal case.

Rep. Robert Rowe, R-Amherst, a retired judge, said opposing counsel has to be told of any law enforcement office with no or diminished credibility.

“If you are on that list,” Rowe said, “you are worthless to the police department who can not use (you) in any trial.”

But others argued police officers should be held to a higher standard.

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, said the only people affected by the bill would be those who commit perjury and endanger the lives and well-being of innocent people.

“By failing to pass this bill, we send a message that we are condoning something we should never condone — lying under oath and getting away with it,” Vaillancourt said.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Protection Committee can study the issue and draft a report, but the next Legislature does not have to take any action.

grayno@unionleader.com


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