August 09, 2012COUNTY — The Sept. 11 Primary Election will determine who will be the Republican candidate in the race for Carroll County Sheriff in November. This year there are two Republican candidates – Christopher Conley (R-Wolfeboro) and Domenic Richardi (R-Conway).
The two faced off in the general election in 2010 with Conley winning his bid for re-election by 953 votes. According to the N.H. Secretary of State's website, there were a total of 19,390 votes cast countywide.
We asked each of the candidates to respond to a list of questions. Because of the number of questions and the length of the responses, there it not enough space available to run both profiles this week. What follows in this issue are the responses of challenger Domenic Richardi. Sheriff Conley's responses will follow next week.
Why are you seeking election?
I am concerned as to the future of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. In the last almost four years Sheriff Conley has caused the relations between administrators of federal, state, county and local agencies to deteriorate. The morale of the employees at the Sheriff's Office is low and a number of highly trained employees have resigned since Sheriff Conley has taken office.
I had worked at the Sheriff's Office for over 17 years and was proud to have served the people. During that time, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office was regarded as one of the top agencies in the State both in public and law enforcement communities.
I want to bring the Sheriff's Office back to an agency that the employees and citizens will be proud of. I want to restore good relationships with the administrators of all agencies that the Sheriff's Office has contact with. I want to bring back the commitment and dedication to the Office of the Sheriff in Carroll County.
What qualifications, qualities or experience do you bring to this position?
I have over 23 years of continuing dedication in NH law enforcement. I had previously worked at the Carroll County Sheriff's Office for over 17 years. I rose through the ranks of deputy to administrative lieutenant. I was involved in most aspects of duties and work at the Sheriff's Office. While there I was the union shop steward for about eight years, giving me experience in contract negotiations and employee grievance procedures. I also participated in recruitment and hiring new employees' for the Sheriff's Office and outside agencies. My years of working experience and knowledge at the Sheriff's Office will enable me to lead the agency back to prominence.
What do you consider the major challenges the sheriff's department/dispatch center is facing?
I feel the challenge that the Sheriff's Office is facing is keeping well trained and qualified employees. As I stated above there have been a number of employees that have resigned since Sheriff Conley took office. I know that there are currently several other employees in different stages of recruitment into other agencies. A continuing loss of current trained employees will have devastating effects on the Sheriff's Office.
The work of a Deputy is not taught at the NH Police Standards and Training Academy. This training is done by each Sheriff's Office and mostly through experiences. If the Carroll County Sheriff's Office is continually training new deputies then the ability to assist other agencies will decline along with the services provided to the citizens of Carroll County.
Services already ended or destroyed by the current Sheriff are:
• Accident Scene Investigations
• Carroll County Drug Task Force
• K-9 Drug & Search unit
• Child Pornography Investigations
• Computer Forensics
• Detective Division and Investigations
What about the challenge that the dispatch center is facing.
I feel that the proposed cutting of taxes by agencies that do not require 100 percent use of the Carroll County dispatch center is a serious challenge. To cut a portion of these funds would dramatically affect the current dispatch and emergency services provided to every town in Carroll County. Without the tax funding, the staffing and equipment at the current level would be dramatically reduced, thus causing extreme shortages in available dispatch services. To say that some towns do not use dispatch services is not exactly true. Every agency uses the Carroll County Dispatch Center at some time. The same can be said about the Carroll County Sheriff's Office using other agency dispatch centers. It is a needed cooperation between these dispatch centers just as it is for law enforcement agencies throughout the County and State. To attempt to save cents on a tax rate would do irreparable damage to the current services provided by the County dispatch center.
Do you think the relationship between CCSO and other police agencies in the County has improved, declined, or remained the same during under the current administration? How so and to what would you attribute this?
I attribute the decline to Sheriff Conley. Sheriff Conley had campaigned that he would improve relationships between agencies but has caused a dramatic decline in relationships between the Sheriff and agency leaders. It began when Sheriff Conley completed a non-funded restoration project of the firing range, and then informed all the local police Chiefs that their agencies would be charged a user fee.
Sheriff Conley has also attempted to undermine the local police chiefs, and state police administration with their selectmen or commanders. Sheriff Conley has conducted himself unprofessionally toward agency leaders and individuals.
The Carroll County Drug Task Force has disbanded during Sheriff Conley's term. This was a working unit made up of local agencies officers and deputized by the Sheriff's Office for jurisdictional purposes. Due to the relationships having declined between the agency leaders and the Sheriff the Task Force is no longer a working collaboration.
Do you believe you are more qualified to serve as Carroll County Sheriff and, if so, how?
Sheriff Conley should not be re-elected and I do feel that I am better qualified to serve as the Carroll County Sheriff. Sheriff Conley campaigned that he would provide a fight against drugs and crimes involving drugs. This year he removed the K- 9 drug patrol from service. This was a certified working unit completely equipped and paid for by the citizens through donations and grants. This along with the disbanding of the Drug Task Force is the wrong direction to make a fight against drugs and related crimes.
The Carroll County Sheriff's Office was a leader in investigating child pornography and computer forensics. This ability is also no longer provided at the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. The traffic accident investigative service was removed. This was a highly used resource by local agencies. Sheriff Conley has displayed disrespect to the county commissioners, delegation, federal, state, local agencies and his own employees during his terms in Office. It is important that Sheriff Conley not be re-elected as he has completely cut the effectiveness of this office, contrary to the needs of the citizens of this county. He has also caused the decline of services and resources that the Sheriff's Office provided to area agencies and the citizens prior to his term.
I feel that I have the ability, experience, and dedication to lead the Carroll County Sheriff's Office in a more positive direction. I have the working knowledge throughout the county at different agencies. I have a very good working relationship with all entities that the Sheriff's Office works with. I have personal knowledge of the employees and work at the Sheriff's Office. This will enable me to manage both personnel and the fiscal budget in a more efficient and transparent manner than the current Sheriff.
Sheriff Conley recently announced the formation of a mortgage fraud task force. What is your opinion on this?
I feel that this not a responsibility of the Sheriff's Office. I understand both the U.S. Attorney and the NH Attorney General's Office have looked into this matter. I am not aware of a single complaint being raised in Carroll County. That being said, the formation of a task force under these facts is a complete waste of resources and staff. The resources of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office should be used to focus more on the crime that continues to affect this county.