October 11, 2012COUNTY — In just 26 days, Carroll County will have a new sheriff as voters choose Nov. 6 between two candidates, Domenic Richardi (R-Conway) and Francis Lord (I-Ossipee). We asked both candidates a series of questions and, in their own words, we give their responses below.
In 1989 I moved to Conway to begin my law enforcement career being hired by the Conway Police Department. I worked as a patrolman at the Conway police for four years. In 1993 I was hired by Sheriff Roy Larson as a deputy at the Carroll County Sheriff's office. I continued working at the sheriff's office for the next 17 years. I retired from the sheriff's office in August 2010 as an administrative lieutenant prior to seeking the election for sheriff that year.
As I worked through the ranks at the sheriff's office I was involved in employee supervising, training, scheduling, supervisor of civil division, communications, prosecution, deputies, bailiffs, and administrative assistants. I also worked shift work and handled day-to-day workloads of the office during my time as a supervisor and a leader. I was the union shop steward for eight years gaining experience and knowledge while successfully negotiating employee contracts and other bargaining unit needs.
Experience and dedication is what I bring to the position of the Carroll County Sheriff.
Experience is not taught at the police academy, it is gained by performance and time on the job. I have over 17 years of experience and training at the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. I was proud of the work that was done at the sheriff's office and would like the current employees to have that experience while working there. I feel that the citizens of Carroll County would benefit from having a person in the position of Sheriff that has a working knowledge of the office and the job.
I am continuing to be dedicated to law enforcement in Carroll County as I am currently employed and certified as a police officer in the towns of Effingham and Freedom. I have experience and working knowledge of how local agencies interact with the sheriff's office and other agencies. I have a good working relationship with the local chiefs, state administrators and officers throughout the county. My years of working experience, knowledge and dedication at the sheriff's office and Local law enforcement 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 major challenge that the sheriff's office is facing is keeping well-trained and qualified employees.
Since I had retired in 2010 a number of employees have resigned from the sheriff's office. I know that there are currently several other employees in different stages of recruitment into other agencies. A continued loss of trained employees will have devastating effects on the budget and services at 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 diminished in the last four years include accident reconstruction investigations, Carroll County Drug Task Force, K-9 drug and search unit, child pornography investigations, computer forensics, and detective divisions and investigations.
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 current 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 a few cents on a tax rate would do irreparable damage to the current services provided by the county dispatch center.
What would you do to address these challenges if you are elected?
With regard to the sheriff's office staffing problem. I feel that my ability to communicate with the deputies and understand the work that they perform will ease some of the willingness to seek employment elsewhere by the deputies. I will also review policies that may have been instituted recently placing unnecessary burdens and requirements on the staff at the sheriff's office.
With regard to the communications center challenges, I would be opposed to a tax reduction to the towns in question. I would explain my position to the county commissioners and delegation members. I would also illustrate to them that just because these towns may not speak to a communication specialist daily doesn't mean that a service is not provided or available.
Your opponent has stated that Accident Reconstruction Team should not be funded by the taxpayers when NH State Police will provide this service "for free." You stated previously that you support the return of the CCSO TAR team. Can you please explain why you are in favor of the CCSO TAR team?
I am in favor of reinstating the Accident Investigation resources available at the Sheriff's Office. This service would be made available for no additional increase in the budget as the equipment and trained employees are already available at the sheriff's office. This resource was first made available when it was determined that there was a need for it. A fatal accident had occurred on the Kancamagus Highway in Albany. The sheriff's office and a NH State Police Trooper responded to the scene. Due to the complexity of the scene it was determined that the scene should be mapped in detail by use of a total station. A request was made to the state police for the TAR team to respond to complete this request. The request was denied as the state police inquired if there would be any motor vehicle or criminal charges involved. At the time it could not be determined by visually looking at the scene. That scene then had to be mapped out using measuring tapes which increases the length of time that the road is closed and fewer details of the scene are captured. At that time the sheriff's office determined a need for the equipment as the state police also had and still has limited resources available throughout the State to assist in investigations. The equipment is known as the Total Station (similar to surveying equipment), with the cost at the time around $20,000.
Once in service at the sheriff's office it was being requested and used to assist the local police agencies in Carroll County, including the larger ones of Conway, Moultonborough, Wolfeboro, Wakefield, and Ossipee. It was being used to investigate motor vehicle, OHRV accidents, and crime scenes.
A few years after this Conway Police Department purchased their own Total Station. They have recently in 2012 used it on a shooting investigation to map out the crime scene. This equipment is not out dated and does not require someone that is a certified accident reconstructionist. It will capture a scene that can be reconstructed by a certified reconstructionist whenever it is needed. There was never a charge to the agencies that needed this service. Response times were quick as the equipment and users were inside Carroll County. The use of this equipment may also help towns and citizens that need the service potentially saving them from civil liability on an investigation.
Are there any other programs eliminated under the current administration that you would like to see returned to CCSO? And if so, how would you work to bring them back and why?
Yes, the Carroll County Drug Task Force should be reinstated by the Carroll County Chiefs of Police. This was a valuable resource of personnel and abilities. This Task Force is formed by the Carroll County Chiefs of Police and the members were "deputized" by the Sheriff for jurisdictional purposes.
There is a strong need for a continued fight against drug use, sales and manufacturing in Carroll County. There have been a number of recent violent and deadly crimes in the County that are directly related to drug use and sales.
This would be one of my priorities to meet with the Chiefs to reinstate or develop the necessary task force to make the fight against drugs in Carroll County. I have already had discussions with some Chiefs as to what assistance would be required or needed from the sheriff's office. It would be an effort to work cooperatively by all involved.
I also would look to reinstate or place back to work the drug K-9, and handler. This again is currently already in the fiscal budget. The current K-9 "Edge" is a certified drug K-9 and still as the ability to be successful in drug detection and article searches. The past administration felt there was no need for this resource as there are other K-9s in the area. This resource is needed in Carroll County as there is a continued drug problem in the County. This resource was and will be available to any agency in the County. This K-9 was used to assist in several combined K-9 group efforts of large searches of schools in and outside of Carroll County.
I also will speak with the Chiefs of Police to pursue a combined effort and resources of a Crime Task Force. This would be to investigate crimes that have escalated throughout
Carroll County and into the borders of Maine communities. These types of crimes include burglaries, theft of materials, (metals, tools, vehicle parts, etc.) These crimes have become increasingly popular due to the economy. They can be a burden to smaller agencies as to using manpower and other resources. It would also benefit all agencies if there could be a more combined effort to investigate these types of crimes as they cross into several towns around each other. Again this is not a cost issue for a budget as it would maximize the resources and personnel of agencies in a combined effort.
The current sheriff announced the formation of a mortgage fraud task force. Previously you indicated this venture is outside of the purview of the sheriff's department and fraud cases should be referred to the NH Attorney General. Your opponent has said if elected, he will abolish the task force immediately. If elected, what would you do with the task force?
I will review the protocol that Sheriff Conley has implemented, but from what I saw during his media announcement I feel that it is not a responsibility of the Sheriff's Office. I understand both the US 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 waste of resources and staff. The resources of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office should be used to focus more on the crimes that continue to affect this county.
The delegation is charged with approving the annual budget and the commissioners are charged with monitoring expenditures throughout the year. The current sheriff made unbudgeted expenditures including the purchase of exercise wear for deputies, the acquisition of government surplus vehicles with repairs and painting needed to put them into service, and the hiring of a part-time prosecutor. Do you think these actions were appropriate? If so, why? If not, what would you do differently when it comes to budgeting, unanticipated expenditures, and improving communication between the CCSO and commissioners/delegation?
I think the above mentioned items were not appropriate expenditures during these economic times. If the need should arise for a unanticipated expenditure in the budget, then I would immediately go to the County Commissioners with the reason and purpose of the expenditure to resolve any budget issue. I will communicate and attend meetings with the commissioners and delegation members. I will also prepare and put forth the budget to the county commissioners and delegation that is fiscally responsible while providing the services and resources necessary for the citizens of Carroll County and the sheriff's office.
Several local police chiefs have indicated that the working relationship between their departments and CCSO has declined over the years. Do you think it is important to have a good working relationship with other police agencies in the county? If so, what do you think needs to be done to restore that relationship?
I definitely believe that it is important to have a good working relationship with any agency that the sheriff's office has contact with. I feel that I have already begun restoring the relationships with a lot of the local chiefs and administrators. I have personally met and spoken with them on some of the issues. I am still working and communicating with the local chiefs and officers by my continued work and dedication in law enforcement in Carroll County. I will make a strong effort immediately to attend the Carroll County
Chiefs meetings and be involved in a strong working relationship between agencies.
I am a native of Carroll County and subsequently raised a family here. I was a builder for many years prior to retiring from the New Hampshire State Police where I performed various duties including patrol work, working in the State Police Narcotics unit in an undercover capacity, as well as working in the Aircraft unit in where I flew both the state airplane and the state helicopter. In all those capacities it required cooperation and communication with many different agencies.
What do you consider the major challenges the sheriff's department/dispatch center is facing?
The major challenge is to get the sheriff's department functioning as it should. The last time it ran flawlessly, in my opinion, is when Roy Larson ran it. Larson was well-liked and respected in the law enforcement community. His ability to get along with everyone speaks volumes; this is the style of leadership I would bring to the department.
I feel we should focus on the primary duties of the sheriff's office while also having a couple of well-rounded investigators capable of assisting with investigations throughout the county. I do not feel we have to have specialty units for everything. In view of that, it is not and will not be my intention to take over cases but to assist.
One problem in particular is addressing our drug problem. I would have no interest in being the sole agency fighting this problem; however, I do feel we all should take part in a problem of this magnitude. I would have no intention of spearheading investigations in any town but again would be more than willing to assist. I feel my years in the narcotics unit give me the ability to offer my service in a meaningful way. Additionally by assisting I feel it would re-build damaged relationships from prior administrations. It would hopefully build a trust or a bond, if you will, that has been missing for some time.
What would you do to address these challenges if you are elected?
First I feel we need a person with a strong personality capable of making the changes and decisions to get the department running smoothly and regain the cooperation and communication with not only the surrounding towns but with the commissioners as well. It seems there has been nothing but controversy with both for a long time.
It seems (NH State Rep.) Frank McCarthy is one that has been willing to stand up to some of the cavalier attitudes that have been taking place way too long. The sheriff is the leader of the department but responsible to the commissioners and the people who elected him and endowed him with the trust to perform his duties and doing so in a fiscally responsible manner.
Statutorily, the county commissioners and county delegation do not have authority over the daily operation and management of the functions of the sheriff's department. The delegation is charged with approving the annual budget and the commissioners are charged with monitoring expenditures throughout the year. The current sheriff made unbudgeted expenditures including the purchase of exercise wear for deputies, the acquisition of government surplus vehicles with repairs and painting needed to put them into service, and the hiring of a part-time prosecutor. Do you think these actions were appropriate? If so, why? If not, what would you do differently when it comes to budgeting, unanticipated expenditures, and communication between the CCSO and commissioners/delegation?
I am not here to criticize previous sheriffs; however, I do believe that any sheriff, or for that matter, any head of a department should stay within his budget! If funds need to be moved around for different items then I believe it would be prudent to do so through and explanation to the commissioners and with their blessing. A plan for funds is exactly that, a plan and just like your budgeting at home, we often have to re-allocate at times.
As far as acquiring surplus equipment I am of the opinion that the only one capable of doing so was the county commissioners. Based on that, I am not sure how any acquisitions were made. Having run the helicopter unit with the state police, I am very familiar with the surplus program the government has. I will also say it can be very beneficial under the right circumstance. What is not commonly known is there are often stipulations to the subsequent liquidation of items received. Regardless, any such undertaking should have the full support of the commissioners.
With respect to hiring a prosecutor, I can only say that as a New Hampshire State Trooper, we prosecuted our own cases unless they were felonies and the county attorney was responsible for that. If the sheriff's department has a problem with prosecution I would suggest they deal with the county attorney. He is paid by the county to represent the county.
Supporters of your opponent claim he is the best candidate for the job of sheriff given his years of experience working at CCSO. While you have many years of law enforcement experience, in what ways are you more qualified than your opponent to manage the sheriff's department and dispatch center?
I can say that I have the leadership qualities to manage the sheriff's department from the onset. I am not promising everything under the sun as it is not feasible. I am hearing that my opponent wants to bring back every unit that existed under previous sheriffs. This is merely a duplication of services and not being fiscally responsible. There are many assets out there that we can draw on that will not burden the taxpayer further, again.
While I am asking for a working relationship better cooperation and communication, I will point out that the state police have many units in place and are more than willing to assist if warranted.
One issue I have heard from several chiefs is "how will I support their town?" My answer to that is simple, I believe in a certain amount of shift work, therefore will attempt to have deputies out at different hours. I am not going to station any deputy in any town unless there is a good reason; however, should a town need assistance, I would do my best to provide that. If there is a call when immediate assistance is needed, I would support sending a deputy, safety is paramount and believe that is a two-way street. If a town should be without manpower or down manpower, I would suggest to the deputy that he stay somewhat central to respond if needed.
Several local police chiefs have indicated that the working relationship between their departments and CCSO has declined over the years and they have been very vocal in blaming the sheriff. Do you think it is important to have a good working relationship with other police agencies in the county? If so, what do you think needs to be done to restore that relationship?
I think that a working relationship is a must! I would promote such a relationship and try to re-build the trust and friendship throughout the county. I would like to lead the sheriff's department with a strong staff and second in command. On that note I have an open dialogue with retired Chief Scott Kinmond, I would love to bring him on board to work with me on issues we now have and re-build the sheriff's department from the ground up. He and I think alike on so many issues, I believe he would be an asset to the county and the sheriff's office. That being said, I believe I have the ability to turn the sheriff's department around and functioning well. I ask for your support in doing this.