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Portsmouth saga: Was this 'Officer Too-Friendly?'

Portsmouth's Police Commission made the right decision last week to reject a proposed settlement that would have made the city's police and fire departments approximately $800,000 beneficiaries of an old woman's disputed multi-million dollar estate. It was really the only decision to be made.

The saga of a Portsmouth police officer and his relationship with a 93-year-old woman is fit for the pen of Nathaniel Hawthorne or possibly Grace Metalious. Questions regarding the amount of time, possibly while he was on duty, that the cop spent with the woman at her home and how she came to revise her will to make him a main beneficiary are in need of answers as are questions about her mental competence to do so.

Veteran Portsmouth city councilor and current Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine says that while the police commission did the right thing in rejecting the money, its plan to review the matter is not enough. Splaine says there is a crying need for an independent investigation of the whole affair (we use the term advisedly).

Police commission member Jerry Howe did have one solid observation before voting against taking the money.

Told that the police department would receive about $400,000 under the settlement, Howe said, "I think that's selling the reputation of the city pretty low."

We hope Portsmouth's reputation doesn't get any lower before this mess is resolved.

Eric Church
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