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Cheetham looks back at term as NH Police Association president

Union Leader Correspondent

July 11. 2018 11:26PM

Lt. Patrick Cheetham of the Londonderry Police Department recently completed his one-year term as NHPA president. (Bill Graham/Iron Works Images)

LONDONDERRY — Londonderry Police Lt. Patrick Cheetham looked back with pride Tuesday on his year-long tenure as president of the New Hampshire Police Association, saying it was the association’s most successful legislative session in a decade.

Cheetham, 37, a Londonderry police officer for 16 years, said his time as NHPA president was marked by a number of firsts.

“I have the unique distinction of being the first and only president of the NHPA and the NHPA Pipes and Drums at the same time,” said Cheetham, who holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Anselm College.

He said even though his time as NHPA president ended in June and the baton has passed to Timothy Mone, an investigator with the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, Cheetham said he plans to play bagpipes in the band “until the day I can’t march.”

“I love playing the bagpipes,” he said.

The band celebrates its 25th anniversary next year.

Another first-time accomplishment was the establishment of a permanent headquarters in Concord. Cheetham said he came up with the idea, researched the options and presented a plan to the association board, which approved it unanimously. The NHPA closed on a house at 8 Centre St. on Jan. 8 and it is currently being renovated.

Cheetham said he was most proud of the new headquarters “and the partnerships and collaboration with our elected officials in Concord.”

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the association endorsed a Republican, Chris Sununu, for governor.

Cheetham said that endorsement was a direct result of Sununu backing some of their regulatory and legislative priorities.

“We had one of our most successful legislative sessions (in the past 10 years) last year,” Cheetham said.

The outcome of the Decennial Commission’s structuring of the state pension plan last year and the governor’s veto of the death penalty repeal bill were viewed as major victories for the association, which contracts with Demers, Blaisdell & Prasol for its statehouse lobbying efforts.

But the most critical regulatory change, which the governor had a direct hand in, was a memo from Attorney General Gordon MacDonald which altered the exculpatory evidence schedule (EES), also known as the “Laurie List.”

The list is used to keep track of police officers who have credibility or disciplinary issues.

In April, the newly issued clarification rolled back much of what had been established by previous AG Joseph Foster in his 2017 memo. It established some mechanisms for hearings and review before putting police officers on the list, and for removing them if allegations of misconduct are found to be unsubstantiated.

“It was a major victory for New Hampshire police officers,” Cheetham said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire is calling for more revisions to the new rules governing the list, arguing it now heavily favors police to the detriment of due process rights for criminal defendants.

Cheetham said officers could have been placed on the list by a police chief without any real reason, potentially harming officers’ reputation, job prospects or prosecution efforts.

Now that Cheetham has stepped down, he said he plans on “taking it easy for a little while” by spending more time with his family, marching in the NHPA Pipes and Drums band and helping to prepare future NHPA leadership.

He will serve on the board as immediate past president for one year.

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