The state’s largest city has become the dumping ground for every social problem in New Hampshire, Manchester’s assistant police chief told the state parole board.
Assistant Chief Ryan Grant delivered his stark assessment to the Adult Parole Board on Tuesday as it considered revoking the parole of Kevin Paul, a career criminal who violated his parole four months after being released to a sober house in Manchester.
“Manchester has become the dumping ground for parolees, homeless, mentally ill, the drug-addicted, emergency-sheltered and every other one of New Hampshire’s problems,” Grant said.
In an email, Mayor Joyce Craig said other cities need to invest in services and establish partnerships to assist individuals in their own community.
“While Manchester is a giving community, we do not have the resources to shoulder the burden of New Hampshire’s issues alone,” Craig said. “We all have a shared responsibility to help our most vulnerable residents.”
Department of Corrections statistics reflect what Grant says, at least when it comes to parolees. At the beginning of August, 624 parolees were being supervised by the Manchester office — 28% of the 2,205 parolees under supervision in the state.
The Manchester population of 113,440 represents about 8½% of the state total.
Nashua’s parole office was supervising 162 parolees as of Aug. 1.
Concord, the third-largest city in the state and home of state prisons for both men and women, counted 373 parolees.
Jennifer Sargent, chairman of the parole board, said she can understand Grant’s frustrations, especially when it comes to sober homes. But in Manchester, parolees find treatment opportunities, sober homes, education and job training, she said.
“It doesn’t surprise me that many of the parolees want to go to Manchester because many are ordered to do services,” Sargent said.
“It’s not the intention of the Parole Board to make any place a dumping ground. That is Assistant Chief Grant’s word, not mine,” she said.
She said the Parole Board does not approve or reject the housing plans of parolees. That is up to the Field Services Divisions of the Department of Corrections.
Grant spoke shortly before the Adult Parole Board revoked Paul’s parole and returned him to prison for the remaining 17 years of his sentence.
Paul was present in 1997 when Epsom Police Officer Jeremy Charron was shot and killed while checking a vehicle pulled over to the side of the road. Paul witnessed the killing and helped the killer, Gordon Perry, flee. Paul was eventually sentenced to eight to 30 years in state prison.
He was released on parole in 2015, and became involved in a New Hampshire-Massachusetts trading ring involving guns and methamphetamine, police said. He was sent back to prison but was paroled last October to a sober-living house in Manchester.
During his testimony, Grant said he was shocked to learn that Paul, an admitted drug addict, was paroled to a city where drugs are probably more prevalent than anywhere in the state.
Grant said parole officials assured him that Paul would be under strict supervision. But in February, Paul missed two consecutive weekly appointments with his parole officer, and the charge on his monitoring device ran out.
U.S. deputy marshals arrested him in Texas in May.
“Mr. Paul is a criminal who knows how to play the Parole Board, play his parole officers and overall, play the system,” Grant said.
Sargent said the Field Services Office was following policy when it arranged for Paul’s parole.
In her statement, Craig said she activated the city’s Emergency Operations Center last year to address homelessness, mental illness and drug use because of the increased number of people coming to Manchester.
Manchester is a statewide leader in developing programs such as Safe Station, the Community Response Unit and Mobile Crisis Response Team, she said, programs that can be replicated in other communities.