Coalition Testifies During State Commission Hearings on Law Enforcement Reform
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The New England First Amendment Coalition recently appeared before a New Hampshire state commission to recommend ways to increase transparency within law enforcement agencies.
“The sunshine these efforts are headed for certainly show the good work that police officers do 99 percent of the time as well as weeding out the bad conduct,” said attorney Gregory V. Sullivan on behalf of the coalition, adding that “it’s not just the bad police officers that we can look at but their supervisors as well.”
Sullivan, a NEFAC board member, testified Aug. 20 during a hearing of the Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency. The commission is tasked with making recommendations to Gov. Christopher T. Sununu about reforming law enforcement agencies in the state.
In addition to providing testimony at the hearing, Sullivan also submitted written comments on behalf of NEFAC and Union Leader Corp., where he serves as general counsel. In an Aug. 19 letter to the commission, Sullivan wrote:
“Transparency and accountability of law enforcement is perhaps more important today than ever. One needs only to turn on the television or computer to learn that communities across this nation innately distrust their local, state and federal governments, and, in particular, the police forces tasked to protect and serve those communities. Such distrust is clearly born from the lack of accountability and transparency, perceived or actual, from law enforcement agencies.”
NEFAC explained to the commission that:
• Allegations of police misconduct must be publicly disclosed regardless of whether disciplinary action is taken.
• The state’s “Laurie List,” a secret list of New Hampshire police officers with questionable credibility, must be considered a public record under the state’s Right to Know Law.
• A public and independent oversight agency must be established to periodically certify and discipline officers when appropriate.
Since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last spring, legislative efforts to increase law enforcement accountability have been made across the country. NEFAC’s testimony in New Hampshire is the coalition’s latest effort to help bring more transparency — a prerequisite to accountability — to all New England states.
The coalition recently submitted testimony to lawmakers in Connecticut and Vermont, joined advocates across the country to demand police reform, discussed the role of transparency in policing the police and presented a webinar on law enforcement records in New Hampshire.
NEFAC also highlighted the work of several journalists covering law enforcement in their communities, explaining challenges related to public records and local police coverage. View all videos and subscribe to NEFAC’s YouTube channel here.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.
Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.
Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, WBUR, Boston University and the Robertson Foundation.