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Mayor and police: Just doing their jobs

Now that David Lozeau has released the police file that outlined the case Nashua authorities tried to build against him in a 2009 and 2010 criminal investigation, it is possible to draw a few conclusions about the police conduct and that of David Lozeau and his wife, Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

It is important to keep in mind that the target of the investigation was not the mayor, but her husband, who was implicated by a police informant for allegations of bid-rigging and drug use.

It undoubtedly says something about the credibility of that informant that police wisely chose not to bring charges against David Lozeau on the basis of the informant’s accusations alone. They were unable to substantiate either the drug or bid-rigging allegations, so they enlisted the informant in an unsuccessful attempt to catch Mr. Lozeau in the commission of an illegal act. He never implicated himself or anyone else during recorded conversations with police informants, and no charges were ever brought as a result of the investigation.

Donnalee Lozeau’s version of events is police reopened the dormant investigation to retaliate against her for criticisms she leveled against the department in her annual State of the City speech last spring.

The file that was made public by David Lozeau doesn’t support that charge.

The most serious of the claims against David Lozeau came not from a confidential informant, but from police themselves, who suspected Mr. Lozeau may have used his position as bail commissioner to relay information to outsiders about which suspects were cooperating with police.

It was then – before the mayor’s speech – that Police Chief John Seusing sought David Lozeau’s removal as bail commissioner.

The police file makes it clear that Seusing was correct to do so. In fact, he would have been negligent had he not acted, because what police suspected David Lozeau of doing – but could not prove – is the kind of thing that can get people killed in some circles.

But there is nothing to suggest that the investigation of David Lozeau was politically motivated. It might not always have been the most elegant of investigations, but it appears to have been started – and then was resurrected – for valid reasons.

Which is not to say that there was not a whispering campaign that started about the same time the mayor was criticizing police last spring. In fact, it appears that there were a fair number of people – in and out of the department – who knew the mayor’s husband had been investigated, and The Telegraph heard from some of them. That, combined with David Lozeau’s resignation as bail commissioner, led to our initial Right-to-Know request last May to see the police files. Whether the whispering campaign was part of a calculated political strategy to discredit the mayor or just part of the standard gossip mill, that the whispering and the mayor’s criticism both seemed to grow louder seems undeniable.

And therein lies the value of disclosure – the laying out of actual facts for public consideration gave people more than mere conjecture and let them draw their own reasoned conclusions.

The mayor, we think, will come out of this with her integrity intact, barring further revelations. There is no evidence in the police file to suggest she was involved in any type of activity that could be considered criminal, or even borders on it. Allegations from a convicted felon that Donnalee Lozeau once used drugs at a party in her own home are not evidence, and her track record tells us that the mayor has earned the benefit of the doubt on this one. While being named in a police investigation may not help her image, the facts contained in the file contain absolutely nothing that would cause anyone to think she’s not qualified to serve in office. In fact, it says something about her character that those who have come to her support include many people who have crossed swords with her in the past, both in Nashua and from her days in Concord when she served in the New Hampshire House.

At the same time, we think Mayor Lozeau needs to give Police Chief Seusing and his department the benefit of the doubt. We understand why the mayor wouldn’t be happy that police investigated her husband, or that she got swept into the periphery of that whirlwind, but that doesn’t mean the investigation was motivated by political considerations. The evidence suggests police were just doing their jobs.

The fact is, neither the mayor nor the police chief need to like one another to do theirs. But a healthy dose of professional respect and mutual cooperation is necessary, and in the best interests of the city, even as the parties move on and the mayor continues to speak her mind about what she perceives to be the shortcomings of the police department.

That is part of her job.

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