Annual Police Report Shows Low Use of Force, Complaints

The Police Department’s annual report to the Town Manager revealed a low number of incidents involving use of force or resulting in a complaint against an officer, Chief Bill Hart told the Town Council on Monday night.

Of the 23,833 incidents for which the Department provided service to the community in 2015, 1.9 percent involved use of force and .04 percent generated a complaint, internal affairs or administrative review.

Of the 10 employee complaints, half were sustained, while three others were either not sustained or found not to have occurred. In one case, an employee resigned prior to completion of the investigation into a complaint filed on Aug. 2, 2015.

The 10 complaints filed against 60 officers working a normal 40-hour work week last year represents a decrease from 2014, where the Department saw 14 complaints for 2,080 hours of police work.

“Our numbers are very low compared to most departments in New Hampshire, and New Hampshire’s numbers with regard to this are lower than the national average,” Hart told the Council Feb. 22.

Hart noted 70 percent of the suspects involved in the 17 calls for service requiring the officer to use force or display a firearm to gain compliance were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The use of force incidents represents a small increase over 2014, in which there were 13 calls for service that required an officer to use some sort of force, according to Hart.

A total of six suspects and four Londonderry Police Officers sustained minor injuries as a result of force used in 2015.

Hart attributed the Department’s low number of complaints and incidents involving use of force to its “multi-tenet approach to professionalism,” which features a lengthy hiring process, high-quality training opportunities for personal and professional development and proper supervision at all levels of the organization to ensure quality services are delivered to the community.

“We view the Londonderry Police Officer as being different than anywhere else. Our objective is to gain compliance with our brain and mouth well before we have to use force,” Hart said.

“I think Town staff and this board and the community have a high regard for the police and I attribute that to your professionalism and how you conduct yourselves,” Councilor Tom Dolan said. “I think you’ve earned that.”

“I think it’s a dynamic relationship,” Hart responded. “We have worked really hard to make sure we stay trustworthy.”

Moving forward, Hart said the Department will be shifting its focus to the development of a strategic plan addressing the fundamental changes the community will undergo as a result of the increase in commercial and residential development expected to come online in the next decade.

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