Tag Archives: Police Chief

Residents of New Hampshire Town Submit Petition to Disband Police Department

Following Police Chief John LaRoche’s August arrest on sexual assault charges, residents of Canterbury, New Hampshire have submitted a petition to disband the town’s police department and replace it with coverage by state or county law enforcement agencies.

The above-embedded WMUR-TV video notes that Chief LaRoche has been indicted on 10 felony counts in connection to allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl over fifteen years ago while working as a police officer in Boscawen, N.H. The alleged victim was reportedly a participant in that department’s Explorer program aimed at showing youths what it would be like to be a law enforcement officer.

LaRoche pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.

[RELATED: Under Federal Investigation, Chicago PD Releases Controversial Videos of Officer Conduct]

On Monday, locals submitted a petition at the meeting of the Canterbury Board of Selectmen calling for the town’s police department to be disbanded. According to The Concord Monitor, 106 residents signed the petition, well above the 25 mark required to force a vote on the issue.

It’s probably not within the authority of the selectmen to dissolve the police department – that would be a town meeting thing,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Bob Steenson, suggesting that the petition tactic may fail in its ultimate goal.

In addition to the allegations against Chief LaRoche, the approximately 70 residents at the meeting offered a variety of complaints about the town’s police force.

Petition organizer Joe Halla told WMUR-TV, “It’s apparent to me there is no supervision in the department. They are not responsible for their behavior. If there’s an SOP, they don’t follow it.

[RELATED: Police Union Calls Officer Drug, Alcohol Testing ‘Illegal Search and Seizure’]

Describing some of the complaints that were brought up at the meeting, the Concord Monitor’s Elodie Reed wrote, “Police suggesting the victim of a theft ask the suspected thief to meet with an officer; police telling a woman she had been ‘watching too much CSI’ when she asked whether fingerprints could be taken from a rock that was thrown through her windshield; police asking a person whether she really wanted them to look for her stolen car, which was an ‘older model.'”

Dozens of meeting attendees went on to share additional complaints about the four officers that make up the town’s police department.

Town officials say that until Chief LaRoche resigns, they are powerless to reform the police department.

Chairman Bob Steenson, who noted that the board is working to push LaRoche out of his position, said, “We’re making a renewed effort to see if we can move on and resolve the issue. John LaRoche needs to do the right thing and resign for this community.

Search for Suspects Continues in Ferguson Shooting that Wounded 2 Police Officers

Ferguson, Mo. – The search for suspects continues on Friday, in the shooting that wounded two police officers at a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department just after midnight on Thursday.

Reuters reported that while “investigators scoured streets near the scene of the shooting for clues” and several people were brought in for questioning after a SWAT team raided a Ferguson home, they were all later released and there have been no arrests.

On Thursday night, residents gathered to hold a candlelight vigil where they grieved for the wounded officers and prayed for the community of Ferguson as it moves forward.

The Associated Press reported that while the vigil was followed by about 200 protesters gathering outside of the police department, “the scene was a marked contrast to the previous night, when fights broke out before the shootings.”

President Obama addressed the shooting on Thursday night during an appearance on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. He called the discrimination in Ferguson “oppressive and objectionable” and “worthy of protest,” but said that there was “no excuse for criminal acts.”

Whoever fired those shots should not detract from the issue — they are criminals, they need to be arrested,” Obama said. “And then what we need to do is make sure that like-minded, good-spirited people on both sides — law enforcement, who have a terrifically tough job, and people who understandably don’t want to be stopped and harassed just because of their race — that they are able to work together to come up with some good answers.”

Obama has yet to visit the St. Louis suburb since protests initially broke out following the death of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot by white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9, 2014.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that the shooting on Thursday came at a time when many in Ferguson “had expected a peaceful night,” given the fact that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson had announced his resignation on Wednesday night following the release of a scathing report from the Department of Justice that revealed racial bias and discrimination against the black community in Ferguson.

During a press conference on Thursday morning, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that both officers, one who was shot in the shoulder and the other in the face, were lucky to be alive. Belmar called the shooting “an ambush” and said that the muzzle flashes from the suspect’s gun came from about 125 yards away, indicating that the suspect was embedded in the crowd of protestors.

In contrast, activist Rev. Osagyefo Sekou from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, who is on the ground in Ferguson, told Ben Swann that the gunshots came from “an area where the protestors were not gathered.”

Those shots did not come from the protestors, contrary to what Chief Belmar said. The shots were not coming from someone who was embedded with us,” Sekou said. “As a community, we’ve been grieving for over 200 days, and we grieve with the families of the police officers.

Nashville Police Chief Defends Decision Not to Crack Down on Police Brutality Protesters

Following the highly-publicized and controversial officer-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, protests erupted nationwide. In many cities, police responded to demonstrations with overwhelming force and military hardware, and rioters reacted by setting fire to storefronts and looting local businesses. However, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson took a dramatically different approach, instead treating the anti police brutality rallies as a type of parade or community event. Consequently, no violence or property damage took place.

At one point, protesters took over I-24 and engaged in a technically-illegal die-in, inconveniencing Nashville drivers. Recognizing that arresting all of the protesters and clearing them from the roadway would elevate hostilities and take several hours to complete, Chief Anderson, channeling the Music City’s culture of politeness, blocked I-24 to protect the protesters and drivers. The demonstrators made their point and exited the roadway within around 20 minutes. However, detractors, who would have rather seen Nashville’s top cop unleash maximum force on demonstrators, complained about the Chief’s soft response. The Tennessean is reporting that Chief Steve Anderson issued a Christmas message on December 26 in which he responded to critics, and, in so doing, laid out his philosophy on law enforcement in which Nashville police are instructed to focus on community safety, rather than revenue generation and arbitrary crackdowns over political ideology. He also expressed his view that open-mindedness holds the key to a resolution of the core issues behind the police brutality protests and said, “It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter.”

Chief Anderson’s letter opened by thanking Nashville police and acknowledging that “not everyone will understand or agree with the manner in which we have responded during these demonstrations.” He told his subordinate officers, “As a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, you have responded to these events in a manner that clearly shows that this is a professional police department staffed by professional individuals who respect the points of view of all persons. Again, thank you for showing the Nashville public that, individually and collectively, they have a police department they can be proud of.”

However, he did not stop there. Anderson also included and responded to a letter from an anonymous detractor who complained that failing to arrest the protesters for taking over I-24 would lead to a collapse of the rule of law, endangering community safety. Nashville’s Police Chief said that the letter was representative of the views of people whose “thought processes are driven, not by what has occurred during the demonstration, but more by the social positions taken by the demonstrators.” He continued, “Clearly, they are more angry at the thoughts expressed by the demonstrators than how the demonstrations are being conducted. While I respect their right to take that position, we cannot allow those views to be a part of our decision making process. Decisions need to be made with a view toward what is best for all of Nashville.” Chief Anderson’s operating policy is to remain neutral on the political views of protesters in keeping with the First Amendment.

The critic also asked how he is supposed to teach his son to respect police who would allow protesters to get away with such lawlessness. The letter calling for a crackdown implied that Chief Anderson may have been ordered by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean not to arrest protesters.

Anderson responded generally by taking ownership of and standing by his decision, saying, “comparing the outcome here in Nashville with what has occurred in some other cities, the results speak for themselves.”

However, he also took the opportunity to explore a teachable moment regarding officer discretion in incidences in which minor violations of the law have taken place. He asked if the individual who wrote the letter would make the same complaint if he were issued a warning after committing a minor traffic violation. Chief Steve Anderson then confirmed a long-standing rumor by admitting that officers in his department institutionally give warnings rather than citations to citizens found clear of warrants and repeat offenses who commit minor traffic violations. Said Anderson, “In the year 2013, our officers made over four hundred thousand vehicle stops, mostly for traffic violations. A citation was issued in only about one in six of those stops. Five of the six received warnings. This is the police exercising discretion for minor violations of the law. Few, if any, persons would argue that the police should have no discretion.”

There is no doubt that Chief Anderson could raise significantly more revenue for the city if he ordered crackdowns on every minor offense and technicality, but his policing style is focused on community safety and harmony, rather than revenue generation. The below video contains footage of a police encounter with an officer from the Metro Nashville Police Department which was filmed by a Tennessee-based cop watcher.

Note in the video above that the cop watcher was given a polite warning about his non-functioning headlight, which could be a safety hazard, and was then allowed to go on his way. The two had a friendly, agreeable conversation about an incident in which Chief Steve Anderson criticized the Secret Service for asking his officers to fake a warrant, which they refused to do, in an effort to illegally search the home of an Obama critic.

The cop watcher in the above video had also previously recorded a July 4, 2013 stop in another county in Tennessee, in which officers appeared to coach a K-9 unit to signal the presence of drugs in an effort to conduct an illegal search. That video, seen below, went viral nationwide and demonstrates the difference between the conduct of police officers under Steve Anderson’s leadership in Nashville and others working in rural counties across the state.

Ex-Police Chief, Accused of Sexual Assault on the Job, Sentenced to Probation

WAFB-TV 9 is reporting that former Sorrento, LA Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr., who plead guilty to lying to the FBI during a federal investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted a 42-year-old woman while on the job, was sentenced by Chief US District Judge Brian Jackson last Thursday to 24 months probation and a $2,500 fine. He was also forced to step down from his position as a condition of his plea deal. During the trial, Theriot admitted that, while on the job, he encountered the alleged victim, who was found unresponsive and heavily inebriated during a 911 call, and took her back to his office, where he admitted to performing what he described as inappropriate sexual relations with her.

According to local news outlet The Advocate, Theriot claims the sexual relations were consensual, but the victim claims otherwise, characterizing the incident, which took place on November 1, 2013, as a sexual assault. She says that she was heavily intoxicated and that Theriot, upon taking her into custody and reviving her, said that he would not take her to jail if she performed oral sex on him. Then, she alleges that Theriot fed her vodka, left her handcuffed and tied under his desk with a belt for a four-hour period, and forced her to perform oral sex on him multiple times.

Theriot apologized for the incident in court, saying, “It’s a matter that cost me my law enforcement career and brought embarrassment to my family and town of Sorrento.” However, he did not apologize to the alleged victim, who has filed a lawsuit against him in civil court.

Assistant US Attorney Alan Stevens said, “This was a very, very serious crime. It’s more than an embarrassing situation… It’s unfortunate. [It] all took place under the color of law.” In exchange for the plea deal, federal prosecutors agreed not to press charges against Theriot for the alleged sexual assault. According to WBRZ, Chief US District Judge Brian Jackson cited the facts that Theriot is helping the FBI with an ongoing investigation, suffers from poor health, and once served in the military as his rationale for handing out the lenient 24-month probation sentence rather than six months in jail.

State-level sexual battery charges could still be filed against Theriot. District Attorney Ricky Babin indicated that his office was waiting for the conclusion of the federal case, at which time he could gain access to evidence collected by the FBI, before making the decision whether or not to file charges. The Advocate notes that Babin contested the idea that the victim in this case could have consented to the sexual encounter, saying that, if Theriot used his position of power to threaten the alleged victim with jail time in an effort to coerce her into sexual relations, the incident would not be considered consensual.

As a part of his plea deal, Theriot stepped down from his position as Police Chief back in February. His replacement will be chosen in a special election on November 4. On the same ballot, voters will also consider a proposition to abolish the Sorrento Police Department and the Police Chief position entirely, due to widespread accusations of harassment and officer misconduct throughout the organization. The Sorrento Police Department was recently largely defunded by the Town Council, lost its insurance, and currently only employs a single officer. Shortly after the department lost its insurance due to its ongoing scandals, at a point when Theriot was still chief and continued ordering patrols despite the lack of insurance, critics called for his resignation, to which he replied, according to The Advocate, “They can stick it.” If the town police force were to be abolished, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office would take over responsibility for police coverage in Sorrento.

During Theriot’s federal trial, Chief US District Judge Brian Jackson blamed the Sorrento Police Department’s woes on Theriot’s flawed and corrupt leadership. Another local couple also filed suit against Theriot back in November of 2013 for an alleged warrantless search, which they believe was conducted on the basis of a personal vendetta, as the couple were supporters of another officer who filed sexual harassment charges against Theriot.