IN DEPTH: Nashua officials divided on police commission issue
NASHUA – City officials, law enforcement and Board of Police Commission members remain divided on a recent resolution that would change the makeup and way commissioners are selected for the 130-year-old board that oversees the city’s police department.
The resolution – brought forth in May – proposed an amendment to the city charter by way of a ballot measure for November. The resolution – R-21-143 – was tabled late last month by the city’s Personnel & Administrative Affairs Committee.
As written, though, the legislation would, “provide for appointment of Board of Police Commissioners by the Mayor and the President of the Board of Aldermen upon approval of the Board of Aldermen.
Appointments shall be based upon qualifications, merit and record of community service and should be balanced so that the membership of the Commission reflects the citizenship of the City. … The Nashua City Charter shall be amended by deletion of the current sections A-101 through A-102 and A-141 through A-146 and by addition of the following new A-100 through A-102. …”
In addition, the board would shift from having three members – its current makeup – to five.
“The Mayor shall, with the advice and approval of the Board of Aldermen, appoint three (3) persons to the Board of Police Commissioners, each holding office for a three (3) year term, or until his or her successor is duly appointed and qualified. The President of the Board of Aldermen shall with the advice and approval of the Board of Aldermen appoint two (2) persons to the Board of Police Commissioners, each holding office for a three (3) year term, or until her or his successor is duly appointed and qualified,” the resolution reads.
Although tabled, if the measure ultimately goes up for approval, current members of the commission – James Tollner (chairman), Nicholas Dahl (clerk) and Matthew Plante – will continue until the end of their term.
The legislation also provides for removal of commissioners, reading, “The Mayor or President of the Board of Aldermen with the advice and approval of the Board of Aldermen shall have full power to remove any commissioner which he or she or her or his predecessor has appointed.”
The resolution was sponsored by Mayor Jim Donchess, Aldermen Thomas Lopez and Brandon M. Laws and Alderwomen Shoshanna Kelly, Patricia Klee and Jan Schmidt.
Commissioners currently are appoint by the governor and vetted by the Executive Council before taking their post. Each commissioner serves for three years, before being either reappointed or replaced.
According to the Nashua Police Department’s website, “The Police Commissioners appoint police officers and fix their salaries. They have full power to make and enforce all rules for the government of the police force. The Police Commissioners also have full and complete care and control of all lands and buildings used and erected for the use of the police department.”
NASHUA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Nashua Police Chief Michael Carignan opposes the measure, noting the department’s sterling reputation and national accreditation. He recently issued a letter to the citizens of Nashua on the subject, which can be found online below this report.
The department has been nationally recognized by the Commission on Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. since 1991.
“They can’t say one thing is wrong with our police department,” Carignan said. “We just got our accreditation redone. We got the highest marks you can possibly get. A year and a half ago, we had the public come in and testify for our final accreditation, and we had over 25 people. That’s unheard of amongst accreditation. We had our protest last summer for Black Lives Matter. Jordan Thompson was on the radio saying there were problems in New Hampshire, but Nashua’s not like that. We’re different. We have a great relationship with them. What does that tell you about how we are running this PD. That’s all been under a governor-appointed commission system.”
The chief noted that city officials’ argument that local control is needed over the police commission, is far from a reality.
“You have three police commissioners that are all from Nashua. They’ve been, for the most part, 35 years or more in Nashua,” Carignan added. “One (Tollner) had served as an alderman for over 14 years. Nick Dahl, he’s an auditor for the federal government. He audits policy and expenditures. Why wouldn’t you want that person on your police commission to look at our numbers every month? And, Matt Plante, he was a project manager for Polaris, which is a billion-dollar company. They are all from Nashua. They all do different things in the community to be active. Jim Tollner is on many of the different planning boards and stuff. Nick Dahl runs the cross-country program fro Nashua PAL. He’s deeply involved in that. They are all community members.”
And, the motivation for the proposed change – politics, Carignan said.
“I believe that a large part of it is politically motivated,” Carignan said. “There are several aldermen that have told me they don’t like the governor, and anybody but this governor should have control of the police commission. They are afraid the governor is trying to take over the city. My argument is that each of these three police commissioner were appointed by Democratic female Gov. Maggie Hassan. They have been since appointed by Republican male Gov. Chris Sununu. They’ve each been reviewed and vetted by and confirmed by Nashua Democrat Deb Pignatelli, female, and Dave Wheeler, as a white male Republican. So, both sides of the spectrum have vetted these people and feel they are appropriate and should be there.”
“They talk about, well, we don’t have budget control. They are implying the governor is manipulating the police budget to ruin the taxpayers of Nashua,” the chief added. “I present what I need for a budget to the aldermen at a meeting, which happens once a month, it’s a public meeting, anybody is welcome to attend. I tell them what we need and why we need it, and they review it and go through it and they make sure that what I am asking for is appropriate. In this year’s case, there were costs associated only with pre-signed and pre-aldermen approved contracts. So, I had to have a 3% increase, because they have already approved those contracts, if not, I’m going to have to cut positions or not fill positions. They have the ultimate say over my budget.”
“So, I present to them (the aldermen), they say, ‘OK, we’re good with this, we’ll present it to the mayor.’ The mayor came in and said, this year in particular, ‘I need you to come in at zero.'” Carignan added. “OK, I’ll come in at what you want, mayor, but if I come in at a zero, it’s going to look like this. The only place I can cut is for bodies, because 95% of our budget is personnel costs. So, that got turned around pretty quickly, and said the PD is refusing to come it at where I (was) asked, and they are coming in at a 3%-plus (increase) to the detriment of the city. So, it’s disingenuous how he’s (Donchess) presenting what my presentation of the budget is. I’d be irresponsible if he said, ‘come in at zero,’ I came in the next days and said I just laid off 10 officers. Then, they’d have my scalp and say, ‘Hey, what are you doing.’ Well, you told me to come in at zero, I came in at zero. So it’s disingenuous how it is getting presented.”
Carignan also takes issue with the insinuation that the governor is trying to exert control over the city and its finances.
“Some people say, ‘Why do you like this the way it is currently?’ People who are interested (in being part of the commission) will either call for themselves or call to nominate somebody to the governor. The governor takes these, present them to the Executive Council, they vet them out for Nashua residency, good members of the community, all that stuff. The governor doesn’t try to interfere with the day-to-day operations. He says, ‘OK, here are your police commissioners, here are the three citizens who will oversee the police department, and then that’s what they do,” he said. “If you give it to local control, which my argument is we currently have local control, because all three guys are from Nashua, like I said. If you try to then give the power to appoint these people to local control, then you start owing people favors. The way this legislation is written, the mayor can dismiss any commissioner at any time. You don’t need to have just cause. If you read it, that’s what it says. So, if the mayor recommends, ‘no, I don’t like these,’ they are all gone. Now, what does that tell you about politics?”
While Carignan touts the exploits of his department, he also says there always is room to grow.
“There is always room for improvement. You always want to look at where you are at and what can you do better,” he said. “You never want to get in a rut of where it’s not broke, don’t fix it, because when it does break, it’s a big break. So, if we need to diversify that (the commission), which if you know my reputation and how I run my PD, I’m very much in favor of welcoming diversity, whether it be gender-based, race-based, anything, I think it’s important to have Nashua represented. We can make those changes, but don’t go about it the way they are doing it. I don’t think their motivations are pure.”
“(The) Nashua Police Department has gotten a lot better. You don’t hear any of the horror stories anymore. These guys are professional. They are very well trained. We go through them with a fine-tooth comb – polygraph tests, psychologists, physical fitness, multiple sets of interviews, medical background, we interview neighbors, we interview former co-workers, we interview ex-wives,” the chief added. “We go through these people with a fine-tooth comb to make sure we hire the right people up front. You start to water that down, and it will happen slowly, it’s just something that will eventually water down the quality of the officers you have, which will water down the quality of the supervisors you have and you get to a point where corruption breads more corruption. That is very dangerous, No. 1. It would kill both the best police department in the state, if not New England, and I just disagree with that. It’s a bad decision. I can’t get any explanation. Why do this? Why now? I’ve asked them, ‘What do you want to see different from the police department?’ ‘Well, you guys do a great job.’ That’s what I’m told.”
MAYOR JIM DONCHESS
Mayor Jim Donchess says the current system is well outdated and doesn’t truly reflect the needs of a city the size of Nashua in the 21st century.
“The first issue is, we’re the only city – this goes back to 1891 – when the state began making appointments to the police commissions for a number of cities – Manchester, Laconia, Berlin, Portsmouth and others,” Donchess said. “All the other cities, through a vote of the people, have gone to local control, one form or the other. Nashua is the only city that has state control – state appointments. So, the first thing is, a lot of things have changed since 1891, including women have gotten to vote, civil rights laws have passed. It’s time to move on from 1891.”
The mayor also says it’s important for the citizens to at least have a say in how the city is run, including the police commission.
“The first questions is, why not let the citizens decide? Why are the commissioners and the police department arguing that the voters are not capable of deciding whether they prefer local control,” Donchess said? “Local control is more accountable to the voters, to the citizens. It’s more transparent. Were we to get local appointments, the appointments would be made by me as the mayor, but also the president of the board of aldermen. They would need to be confirmed by the aldermen. Those appointments and their interviews would be on TV. Hopefully, we would get the police commission meetings on TV. … The current system may have fit in 1891, but it doesn’t, in my opinion, work now.”
“Now, I’ve talked to many, many people about this – hundreds of people, and a clear majority of Nashua voters and citizens would like to make the change,” Donchess added. “In some ways, that’s why the commissioners are fighting this so hard – trying to keep it off the ballot. I think everyone knows the voters are likely to approve – as they have done in other cities – a move to local control. I think that only good can come from it. I think the people want and deserve the right to make a decision on this. I totally dispute the idea that’s being advanced by some of the commissioners that the people of Nashua are not well-informed enough or smart enough to be able to make such an important decision. I think that’s total baloney.”
The mayor also believes that only good can come from an increase in the number of police commissioners.
“One other feature of the change, the proposal would expand the commission from three to five members to enable us to make the commission more representative of the entire citizenry and community of Nashua,” he said. “Since 1891, one woman has been nominated to the Nashua Police Commission. It’s time, how about getting into the 20th century, at least – (let alone) the 21st. One woman since 1891. If the appointments are made locally, we can definitely guarantee we can do better than that.”
“The government – any governor – this isn’t at the top of their agenda,” Donchess added. “Who’s going to be a on the police commission for Nashua. They’ve got a lot of other things to think about. The state, the budget, all the stuff that goes on in Concord, the Legislature. It tends to be kind of a political thing between the governor’s counselors and the governor and somebody’s friend or something. I mean, we can definitely find qualified people who can represent, in the totality of five members, will represent not Nashua of 1891, but Nashua of 2021.”
Donchess likened the current system to systems of government in other counties, where higher-ranking politicians are appointed to office.
“What would the people think if the state appointed the board of aldermen,” he said? “Would they think that is acceptable, because they are local people. I don’t know the system now, but there was a time in China when the central government appoints the mayors. The mayor of Shanghai came here at one point. He was appointed by Beijing. He lived in Shanghai. This is the equivalent of the state appointing the mayor. Were that the case, I would argue very strongly that the people have the right to make that decision, even though it’s someone from Nashua, rather than someone up in Concord. (The) same with the board of aldermen. What if the state was appointing the board of aldermen, and the defense was ‘Oh, they’re all from Nashua,’ so no problem? I don’t see it that way. I’m a strong, pro-police mayor, but I’m also totally in favor of local control, and I totally believe that the people of Nashua have the right, and are fully able, to make the decision on an issue like this.”
Donchess also says even the current system could be open for corruption.
“That could happen now. What’s the difference. I would call what we have now a good ole boys system. There’s one woman on the commission since 1891. Margaret Flynn served on the commission for awhile, eight to 10 years, but that was decades ago,” Donchess said. “There are not facts to support this (corruption). I would say, in return, this could happen with the system now. The one example we have of someone trying to intervene in a criminal investigation was a state-appointed commissioner. The idea that the mayor and the president of the board would conspire with the board of aldermen and five highly respected citizens of the community to try to fix something – I think it’s a scare tactic.
“The PD mentions that they are nationally certified. That’s good, that’s very good, but Dover – if you look to the website in Dover – the Dover PD is nationally certified and (was) nationally certified long before Nashua,” Donchess added. “They are locally controlled. So, are they corrupt because they have a system of local control over in Dover. I think not. There’s not facts given to support the idea that there’s more corruption, or more insider dealing. I don’t try to influence the housing authority hirings, even though I appoint the members of the housing authority – all of them, not just some of them – as proposed here. I think it’s a red herring.”
THE POLICE COMMISSION
Nashua Police Commission Chairman Jim Tollner also is in favor of keeping the current system, which he said works and supports the police department appropriately.
“Up until a few months ago, we thought everything was fine. Then, the mayor had sent out a survey. The concerning thing was the survey was sent to a select group. So, I guess I would call that an echo-chamber survey. Those are some of the things a lot of companies do when they want to market something or do a presentation, they can say, ‘Oh, we did a survey, and these are the results,'” Tollner said. “In the survey, there were a couple things that were concerning; that the police commissioners, they control the budget and expenditures. The board of aldermen and the mayor control the budget. What the police commissioners do, is we recommend what the budgets (are) and how we spend it. The mayor and the board of aldermen categorically approve the bottom line of the budget.”
“So, that was one of the first things. We have done back and forth. We did meet with the mayor, the chief and I met with the mayor, maybe five or six weeks ago to try and initiate some conversation on this,” Tollner added. “We are kind of a little in the dark on it. We weren’t aware of the legislation until it was presented. So, there was no conversation between the endorsers or the mayor to the chief or any of the commissioners. So, we had to do our own fact-finding and see what it meant and what it was all about – what was behind it. The one thing that is concerning is that the people pushing the legislation are saying they want local control. OK, I would say, for the most part, it’s not always that way because you have different police commissioners, but I will just speak for myself. I’ve been very involved in the community over the last 25-30 years. I’ve served on five, or six or seven different boards. I served on the board of aldermen for 14 years. I’ve run for mayor. So, I think I have a pretty good handle on how to balance different things in the city. Being local, what I said at the meeting a couple weeks ago, is I go to the same supermarket everyone else does, my kids went to the schools here in Nashua. I coach kids’ schools. Anything that any sitting board of aldermen member wants to define as local, I’m living local.”
Tollner, as did the chief, point out current commission members were appointed by then-Gov. Maggie Hassan.
“A number of the sponsors have said they, ‘Don’t like Concord – I’m not a fan of the governor. They are controlling what is going on here,'” Tollner said. “My response back to them would be, would you be pushing this legislation if Maggie Hassan was still governor, or Deb Pignatelli was still executive counselor. So, they are playing the game in the moment, when if we are going to do right by the city and the citizens, you don’t play the game in the moment. You play the game of what has happened in the previous 10 or 20 years, and what do you want to see happen in the next 10 or 20 years. That provides you a balance in the decision making. The head scratcher for me is that Maggie Hassan chose me. She was a Democratic governor. I think, at that time, the executive counselor was David Wheeler. Then, you fast-forward, then Deb Pignatelli is the executive counselor, and she approved me, and the governor was Chris Sununu. So, I guess – and all the commissioners fall into that – we’ve been all appointed by a Democratic governor, reappointed by a Republican governor. Neither governor has ever made a phone call to be involved in anything that the police commission is responsible for. I have been on the commission for five-and-a-half years, and I’ve never received a phone call from a governor nor an executive counselor asking me to do something. It’s never happened.”
“So, the most important thing is the commission needs to be independent,” Tollner said. “What I mean by independent, is there should not be any influence from Concord or the local politicians, because if that happens, then you are just asking for trouble down the road. This board says, ‘Oh, that would never happen.’ For the record, none of us are saying that would happen with this board, but the roles and responsibilities we have when we make these decisions is you are not talking about this group of police commissioners or this board, you need to be cognizant of what will this board look like in five years, 10 years from now? When some of the people comment, there will be undue influence, we are not necessarily talking about today. We can easily go back and see what happened 10-15 years ago, and we can easily think what can happen 10-15 years from now. There have been situations in Nashua where there have been some investigations. I’ll say over the last 20 years. Investigations of people who were involved in local politics. I think the most important thing to remember is most of those investigations were done, and there were no findings. But, if there was involvement of local politics, how would that have hurt people’s reputations? You can never get that back. You can never put that genie back in the bottle.”
The commission chief also agrees with Carignan, in that there always is room for improvement within the department.
“I’m not saying the Nashua Police Department is perfect. Every entity, company, police department has their issues from time to time, but the one thing this independent board has been able to do is where we see problems, we address them, whether that be with personnel or programs,” Tollner said. “There are some officers we have found that are not a fit. If you are not a fit, it’s probably best that you move on. I will also tell you, that when we make a decision where someone is not a right fit, the other important thing is we do it in such a way, so diligent in how we do it that we are not being sued, which is also very important for the citizens of Nashua to know.”
Tollner also believe the motivation behind the move is political.
“This is a political whim,” Tollner said. “They don’t like the governor, but two years from now – just two years from now – you could be totally screwing yourself.
And, the roles could be totally upside-down. There was a reason why this was put in place. It’s like a firewall.”
Tollner also noted that each ward has different needs that should be considered before making a decision on a ballot measure.
“Each ward has a different situation as far as what they are looking for from the police department, because each ward has its own personality,” he said. “If we are going to do this the right way, we should address the needs and concerns of each ward, because we live in a diverse city. All it will take is one bad situation, and it will tarnish it all. It’s all about integrity and the integrity that the current system provides.”
BOARD OF ALDERMEN
Personnel Committee Chairwoman June Caron, Ward 7, said the resolution may be pulled from the table at the committee’s meeting on Tuesday.
“During the meeting, anyone on the committee can pull it off the table for discussion,” Caron said. “I don’t know if anyone is planning to, though. I also don’t think the mayor agreed to put together a committee to talk about this.”
“It stays on the agenda until someone brings it up,” Caron added. “I think if nobody does, I may as chairman. We need to have a conversation about this.”
One of the sponsors of the resolution, Brandon Laws, at-large, has come to the decision to no longer support the legislation.
“The reason why I sponsored this is it was presented to me, and I liked the idea to have more voter autonomy,” Laws said. “As I spoke to more and more people involved in government and others, it occurred to me that it’s an unnecessary change to make to the charter.”
“If anything, it does more harm than good,” Laws added. “It would be upsetting the delicate balance in the Nashua PD. I don’t really see the urgency to change it right now. Again, after speaking to people, I just didn’t find a compelling reason enough to change something that didn’t need changed.”
With the resolution tabled, efforts are underway to obtain enough signatures on a petition so the measure could be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot.
“Signatures are being gathered,” Donchess said. “It’s 1,539, I think, maybe 1,536 to get it on the ballot in November.”
“If you look at the way the petition drive started, this was filed by a group of 25 citizens who initiated this back in May,” Donchess added. “There was a waiting period under state law while the state considered (the request). What happens is, the petition is to be forwarded to the AG’s office, the secretary of state and the department of revenue administration to have them clear the question as valid, were it adopted it would be a legal change. There’s a waiting period when they need to respond, which they did. The AG’s office responded to the city attorney saying this is totally an appropriate change. The petition-gathering began a few weeks ago, and I’d say it’s going fairly well. Most people – nearly everyone – signs the thing.”
Despite that, Caron noted this is not an optimal time for such a ballot question.
“This is going to divide people and be an issue,” Caron said. “This isn’t the election to bring this to the voters, because it’s an off year. You won’t get the voters. It’s so important to put this off for two years so information from both sides can be brought forward. I just don’t understand.”
“Also, the diversity part is not really why he (Donchess) wants to do this,” Caron added. “When they talk about that, it’ just telling you something to get you to sign something (the petition).”
Tollner agrees there should be more discussion on the subject before any action is taken.
“There should be dialogue,” Tollner said. “We are always open to input. In talking to Lori Wilshire (president of the board of aldermen) and some other aldermen, they would like to do this work study group and involve the community.”
Carignan agrees, although he thinks a completed petition is inevitable. He also said, this isn’t a fight he or the police department should be in.
“I’ve said my piece, I’ve said people should consider both sides before you sign this petition,” Carignan said. “I have a feeling, seeing how much energy they are putting into this ballot, they’ll get it signed and it will be on the ballot for November. Then, the efforts becomes presenting our side to as many voters as we can, and then convincing them to come out and vote.”
“Whether that be to debate or whatever, because I feel pretty passionate about this,” he said. “The police department, I don’t think it is our place to get involved in politics. I don’t. Whoever is in office, I don’t think it is our job to help you or hurt you. It’s to keep the people of Nashua safe, to deal with their problems and to help where we can to get everybody the services they need. I’m jumping into this fight, because it will have a significant impact on the police department, and that impact is negative, which will hurt how we can provide safety and services to people. So, every once in a while, you have to pick a side if you think it is worthwhile. I will get involved in that for this reason, although I don’t think we should, and I don’t want to.”
July 23, 2021 – A message from Chief Michael Carignan – Letter to the Citizens of Nashua
A message from Chief Michael Carignan – Letter to the Citizens of Nashua:
To the Citizens of Nashua,
Recently, a resolution was presented to reconfigure and restructure the Nashua Police Commission. I oppose this resolution. This resolution is shortsighted and lacks the appropriate public discussion for such a significant change. The professionalism of the Nashua Police Department is a substantial reason why the City of Nashua is regarded as one of the safest cities in the country. Changing the leadership structure for an entity responsible for ensuring your safety should not be done hastily or haphazardly. Please do not sign the petition for Resolution R-21-143 until you are fully informed of the implications for this change.
The majority of the City’s Alderwomen and Aldermen are in agreement with me in wanting to have a broader conversation relative to this issue. Recognizing the gravity of this decision, and the unintended consequences that come from rushed legislation, the Board of Aldermen Personnel Committee tabled the current legislation to form a study group on the matter. Yet the Mayor, a few Aldermen, and a citizen group, have ignored this process and are seeking a petition to get this matter on the ballot for November.
The proposed resolution will almost certainly have consequences for your public safety. This is why so many in the City are calling for a comprehensive review of this issue prior to it being offered as a ballot vote. The individuals currently going door-to-door seeking signatures for the petition are not informing the citizens of all sides of this issue, and in some circumstances, providing misinformation. There have been instances where the individuals soliciting signatures are very young , not informed on the issue, and unaware of the gravity of this decision.
Nashua Police has three Commissioners, who are nominated by the Governor and approved by the Executive Council. Each of the three current Police Commissioners were nominated by Governor Maggie Hassan (D). They have all been reappointed by Governor Chris Sununu (R). I was disturbed when I learned that the push for this change was driven by a dislike for the Governor, even though the sitting Governor did not originally appoint any of the current Commissioners.
Nashua Police Commissioners must have Nashua residency for a minimum of 5 years and undergo a comprehensive background check. The Commissioners are responsible for police personnel administration, to include appointing and promoting officers. They also have budget oversight. Fiscal responsibility is their primary objective with budgetary matters. The police officers are the Department’s most valuable assets. As a result, 95% of the Department’s budget is allocated to personnel costs. By any business measure, this is exceptional financial management. Hiring and retaining talented officers does come at a cost, but these are costs the Board of Aldermen have overwhelmingly supported. Maintaining the highest standards and having the best officers translates into NPD being able to provide the most professional police service in the region.
The current commission structure is designed for better transparency. It is why the system was created 120 years ago and why it has continued to be successful. Regarding accessibility, to find out who the Commissioners are and how to contact them one needs only log onto the NPD website. Over the years there have been a number of investigations which involved individuals connected to City Hall. Our current system gave the public confidence in knowing that there could not be any influence from the political offices. Unfortunately, undue influence does occur with alarming regularity in other communities. Shockingly, the Resolution presented by the Mayor allows the Mayor or President of the Board of Aldermen to remove any commissioner without cause. This paves the way for Commissioners to be controlled by those who hold his or her appointment in the balance, lest they be removed.
The manner in which the Nashua Police Commissioners are selected provides a sense of leadership stability. This consistency has led to the Nashua Police Department receiving the highest reviews from CALEA, the national accrediting body for police agencies. Nashua Police is among 5% of all police agencies to receive, or attempt to receive accreditation. Within that small number of selective agencies, NPD has received the honor of being recognized as the best of the best.
NPD hires and promotes based on merit. This seems intuitive, but it is often not the case for many government departments. NPD’s exceptional service comes from individuals who earned the privilege of being hired and promoted. Political influences in these decisions, which happens routinely in many systems similar to that proposed in the Resolution, will degrade the quality of personnel hired or promoted within the Department. This leads to offering a diluted service to the citizens.
I ask this question to the Nashua business community. If your business is highly profitable, responsibly managed, and recognized as an industry leader, would you change your organizational structure on a whim? You would not do that, because it does not make sense. The Mayor has referenced lack of diversity on the Commission as being a driving force for this change, yet he has never contacted the Governor to effect any change or request candidates. The Mayor has also said a change in the Commission structure would provide greater budget control. This is not accurate. The Department’s budget is controlled by the Board of Aldermen. In fact, NPD is authorized to have 187 officers, yet in working within the budgetary boundaries established by the Board of Aldermen, the Department will not hire above 179 officers.
Nashua has won numerous awards for livability. Public safety is a key component for such a rating. Will a change to the Police Commission make Nashua a SAFER city? No, it will not. Will it result in hiring and retaining better officers? No, it will not.
I am opposed to this Resolution. The current system has served the City of Nashua exceptionally well for over 120 years. It is a contributing factor for Nashua being one of the best cities to live and work. NPD’s commitment to creating a safe and secure community is why many of you have decided to live here. I want to engage in a conversation with citizens to see if and where improvements can be made. However, people should not sign the petition for Resolution R-21-143 until they have had an opportunity to hear both sides of the issue.
Chief of Police