New Hampshire released an expanded list Tuesday of police officers who it determined may have credibility concerns due to a range of infractions from excessive force to lying.
The list of 174 officers, released following legislation passed last year, aims to improve transparency by tracking officers whose credibility may be called into question during a trial because of something in their personnel records. There are officers on the list who worked for more than 90 different law enforcement agencies in New Hampshire, including the state police. It was unclear how many are still working for their department or anywhere in the state.
Prosecutors are required to turn the information over to defendants before trial, but public access has been limited to heavily redacted versions of the list.
“The disclosure of this information is vital,” said Gilles Bissonnette, the state legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which was one of several groups including several media outlets that sued in 2018 for access to what is known as the “Laurie List.”
“We give police officers a badge and a gun and we need to be able to trust them with it,” he said. “When it comes to ensuring police in New Hampshire live up to the high expectations we have for them, the answer is more transparency, not less.”
Salem Police Det. Michael Geha, who is president of the New Hampshire Police Association, said his group was closely monitoring the process.
“We hope it will strike a balance between the need for transparency with these types of incidents against individuals rights of officers who stand accused of wrong doing,” he said. “We have to this right.”
Beyond the names of the officers and who they worked for, there is still plenty of information withheld from the public. The list does not include details of why the officer is on the list other than to list vague descriptions like truthfulness, falsifying records, dereliction of duty and criminal conduct. There were 12 on there for excessive force.
There are also more than 70 additional officers who have filed lawsuits challenging being added to the list.
There is also a related push by the American Civil Liberties Union to gain access to misconduct records of officers, some of whom are on the list. A hearing involving the records of a former state trooper is happening Thursday morning in Merrimack Superior Court.
The first batch of 80 names from the list was made public in December, along with brief descriptions of the officers’ alleged wrongdoing. More names are expected to be released in the weeks ahead.
The new law’s provisions match a recommendation by the Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency that was established in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
It’s also part of a broader push across the country among civil liberty groups and reform-minded district attorneys to make the system more transparent by publishing these lists.
The New Hampshire list’s official title is the “exculpatory evidence schedule.” It is often called the “Laurie List” after Carl Laurie, whose murder conviction was overturned in 1995 after a court determined that defense attorneys were not told about poor behavior by a detective involved in his confession.
Story by Michael Casey