Outside firm to probe police handling of East Kingston trusty program
EAST KINGSTON — The town will have an outside agency conduct an internal investigation after an inmate trusty allegedly stole drugs and drove a police cruiser after he was left alone for hours at the police station.
Selectman Matthew Dworman said the town will hire a third party to look into allegations that inmate Jarred Brisbois broke into the evidence room and took heroin, busted into an officer’s locker and, at some point, drove a police cruiser while he was unsupervised on May 11.
The incident is being investigated by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department, County Attorney’s Office and the state Attorney General’s Office.
“The investigation will look into this matter as well as any (making) other potential policy and procedure recommendations,” Dworman said Wednesday.
Dworman would not comment on whether disciplinary action has been taken against anyone at the police department in the wake of the incident, which may have compromised evidence in criminal cases.
“There is a continued ongoing investigation,” he said.
Selectman Ronald Morales said he couldn’t comment on the case because it is under investigation.
“We want to make sure going forward everything is done properly on our end and their end,” he said.
Morales said the town’s attorney, Bart Mayer of the law firm Upton & Hatfield, is handling the matter.
Mayer said Wednesday he couldn’t comment on his discussions with the town.
Brisbois was washing police cruisers at the police department through a trusty program at the Rockingham County jail that allows trusted low-risk inmates to spend part of their day performing maintenance work and other jobs at the county complex and several local police departments while under supervision.
While Brisbois has not been charged, county investigators say the incident occurred when was left alone at the police station while an officer went out on patrol.
Authorities say Brisbois broke into the evidence room where he ingested heroin and smoked marijuana before being returned to the jail under the influence.
Brisbois also allegedly smuggled heroin and a hypodermic syringe into the jail and shared the drug with other inmates, authorities have said.
While nothing was taken, authorities said Brisbois also broke into an officer’s locker where he had access to the officer’s duty belt with a gun, Taser and handcuffs.
He is suspected of driving a police cruiser as well.
East Kingston has stopped using trusties.
The incident has raised questions about the jail’s trusty program and the level of supervision provided by the police departments where the inmates work.
Jail Superintendent Stephen Church and county and local police officials have acknowledged that the extent of supervision varies from one department to the next.
County commissioners and other officials are now reviewing the program.
“I think it has some good potential, but clearly a policy needs to be provided to the department by the county. Every department handles it differently, and I think there should be a policy provided by the county that requires departments that are going to partake in the program to handle them the same way,” said Dworman, the East Kingston selectman.
Dworman added that police departments have an “expectation” of the trusties provided to them.
“The reason why they’re called trusties is there’s a certain amount of trust (entrusted) in them,” he said.