Twelve police departments from the region are now listed on the exculpatory evidence schedule, which tracks current and former New Hampshire law enforcement officers found to have lied, used excessive force or otherwise behaved in a way that could harm their credibility as witnesses.
Officers stay on the list even after they leave an agency or stop working in law enforcement altogether. Because the state has not released an unredacted list, it is not clear who the officers are or whether they still work in the field.
Five local police chiefs said the officers listed from their departments are no longer employed there. In some cases, they said, the officers have been gone for years.
“The three that are being reported on by this agency no longer work here,” Hinsdale Police Chief Todd Faulkner said. “I know that some of those names [being on the list] are a result of action that the department took.”
Chiefs at the other departments declined to comment or could not be reached. In one case, a local chief said he did not know why his department was named.
None of the chiefs would comment on why the officers landed on the list in the first place, citing personnel confidentiality.
The list includes entries for the Antrim, Bellows Falls, Chesterfield, Dublin, Hinsdale, Jaffrey, Keene, Peterborough, Stoddard, Swanzey, Troy and Winchester police departments. The reasons include “credibility,” excessive force, falsifying records and “egregious dereliction of duty,” without further explanation.
A version of the list released in July 2018 included only six local departments. The increase could have to do with the process of updating the list with old cases, rather than new allegations of misconduct.
The exculpatory evidence schedule was created in 2017 to help prosecutors meet a constitutional obligation — turning over favorable evidence to the defense. The N.H. Supreme Court held in 1995 that that mandate includes evidence from a personnel file that could undermine the credibility of a police officer testifying at trial.
Thanks to that case, State v. Laurie, previous versions of the exculpatory evidence schedule were called Laurie lists.
Lying in court or in a police report, falsification of records or evidence, criminal conduct, abuse of power, excessive force or mental instability leading to disciplinary action can land someone on the list, according to guidance from the N.H. Attorney General’s Office.
Though police chiefs report the names of individual officers, the Attorney General’s Office maintains the full list.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire and several news organizations, including The Sentinel, have sued the state to gain access to an unredacted version of the list that would include officers’ names.
The ACLU and news outlets contend that the public has a right to know about police officer misconduct. The state has argued that disclosing the list would violate officers’ privacy and state laws that make police personnel records confidential.
A superior court judge ruled in April that the list should be made public. An appeal is pending before the N.H. Supreme Court.
The redactions make it impossible to count exactly how many listed officers are from the Monadnock Region. On some entries, the department field is left blank. The list also includes duplications, according to Kate Spiner, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office.
One entry lists the Bellows Falls Police Department. Police Chief Ron Lake said he does not know who that officer is or how his Vermont department wound up on New Hampshire’s exculpatory evidence schedule. He said he learned about it after one of his officers saw Bellows Falls included on a publicly released and redacted version of the list.
He said in an interview last week that the N.H. Attorney General’s Office had not responded to his inquiries.
“I’ve called them like five times,” he said. “Nobody’s ever gotten back to me.”
Keene Police Chief Steven Russo said he believes one of his department’s four entries is an officer who was cleared of misconduct and should no longer be on the list.
Previously, an officer could be placed on the list while an investigation was underway. The policy was changed in 2018 to put officers on the list only after allegations of misconduct are verified.
Two of the other Keene Police Department entries appear to have been added during Russo’s tenure as chief, but he said he was unaware of them and didn’t know which officers they pertain to.
“I don’t know where those came from,” Russo said.
Asked about those cases, Spiner did not provide specifics. “The EES reflects the information that this Office was provided,” she said in an email.
Prosecutors’ offices have tracked officers with “Laurie” issues for years. But the 2017 creation of the statewide Exculpatory Evidence Schedule consolidated information from various police departments and county attorneys’ offices, Spiner said.
“Up to that point in time, each agency handled these issues independently and the creation of the initial EES relied on the prior lists,” Spiner said. “Historically, these lists, in many instances, may not have included information in all of the categories of the current, centralized EES.”
In response to a public records request, the Attorney General’s Office provided The Sentinel with a redacted version of the list that was updated July 30.
Of the 12 local departments on that version of the list, police chiefs in Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Keene, Peterborough and Winchester said the listed officers they know about no longer work at their departments.
Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard said the only entry for his department involves an officer who resigned in 2006. The officer was put on the list due to an issue at a previous department, Guinard said. The list gives the reason as “truthfulness.”
“The incident did not take place here with Peterborough PD,” Guinard said. He declined to comment on the nature of the incident.
Police chiefs in Dublin and Jaffrey would not say whether the officers listed still work at their departments, saying it’s a confidential personnel matter. Each department has one entry on the list.
Police chiefs in Antrim, Stoddard, Swanzey and Troy did not respond to requests for comment.