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Barnstead selectmen hear departmental updates

July 03, 2020
BARNSTEAD — The Barnstead Board of Selectmen used its biweekly meeting on June 23 to convene with four town departments – Parks and Recreation, the Barnstead Police Department, the Barnstead Fire Department, and the Highway Department – for updates.

Chief Paul Poirier of the Barnstead Police Department told the board about the department's plans in response to nationwide calls for racial justice after the death of Minneapolis, MN resident George Floyd during an arrest, as well as several other goals that the department has for the near future.

"With everything going on around the country and around the world, obviously we are going to try to emphasize our use of force training and sensitivity training," Poirier said. "We're looking into some classes right now online and we're hoping to get some officers into additional training at the academy once they're up and running fully. We're hoping to get everybody some online training in the meantime."

Poirier said that the department is waiting for guidance on the training from the law enforcement committee within the New Hampshire Executive Council.

Poirier discussed several other goals that the department has, such as the future usage of additional technology that will help the department and the town overall to map crime and keep track of statistics. Once the project is complete, residents will be able to access the information via the town website, Poirier said.

Another goal of the police department, Poirier said, is to "enhance" the relationship the department has with Barnstead Elementary School.

"We'd like to work more closely with the school and the staff there on school safety," Poirier said. "…We already work closely with the social worker there…but we'd like to get more involved."

"I think there's so much more for the development of that relationship," Selectman Lori Mahar said.

Poirier discussed the option for funding a school resource officer with a grant, and selectman Rick Therrien said that he is in support of an officer being present at pick-up and drop-off times once school is back in session.

The police department received a donation of a bike as an alternative way to access the community, and Poirier said that the department is looking into costs of uniforms, helmets and other accessories that would be needed for bike patrols.

Poirier also announced that a community appreciation cookout will be held at the police department on July 11 starting at 1 p.m. There will be an official swearing-in ceremony for the department's three newest officers, and officers who have gone "above and beyond" over the past year will be recognized. All Barnstead community members are welcome, and the event will be free.

Chief Shawn Mulcahy and Deputy Chief Al Poulin of the Barnstead Fire Department discussed the steps the fire department is taking to ensure the safety and health of the staff and community during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They expressed that they feel the department is prepared for a second "influx" of virus cases, and that they feel that the building should remain closed to the public, evaluating the reopening plan "a month at a time."

Regarding the recently approved installation of an upstairs bathroom in the fire station, Poulin said that the department received a donated tub and shower unit, as well as a donated pedestal sink to save costs, and the staff members have been helping to start sheetrock. Mulcahy and Poulin reported that an electrician will be completing the electrical work in the upstairs bathroom, and that the project will be complete soon.

Parks and Recreation Chairperson David Allen provided an overview of upcoming plans for the department, including the start of outdoor yoga classes on Tuesdays and a series of road cleanups. A recent bonfire at the town beach had "fairly small" participation, according to Allen, and the first session of swim lessons has started. Allen said that about 25 people have signed up for the second and third sessions, and the department is "expecting to have quite a few more sign up." Additionally, Allen said that the department has been posting ideas for "quarantine activities" on social media that anyone can try.

With the Highway Department, the board continued a discussion from the prior meeting regarding reclaiming roads, rather than going through with the typical process of paving. The board and the department discussed some of the known costs of the repairs, and ultimately approved a motion for the road agent to evaluate the three roads that need to be repaired and return to the board in two weeks with a plan for the board to vote on.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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