Gilmanton chief seeks restraining order against selectmen citing meddlingBy BEA LEWIS
Union Leader Correspondent
February 16. 2018 8:56AM
GILMANTON — The town’s police chief is looking for a restraining order against the town’s selectmen, asking a judge to decide whether elected officials are micromanaging his department and could potentially expose confidential information.
Chief Matt Currier claims in court filings that he is between a rock and a hard place as he faces the prospect of being fired by the board, which told him to immediately begin complying with 17 “directives” they voted to approve on Dec. 4. But the chief said following their demands could expose his officers’ lie-detector test results, background checks and patrol routines. Selectmen also asked to see paperwork submitted to the Attorney General’s office detailing any issues in an officer’s past that could be used against them at trial.
In a letter on behalf of selectmen, attorney Mark Broth of Manchester said selectmen have an obligation to protect the safety of the community and town employees. He said disclosing work schedules would not affect police safety but agreed to officers being listed as “Employee A,” etc., according to court records.
In order for the board to have a clear understanding of how manpower is being deployed and the total hours each employee works, Broth wrote, the schedule should also include any outside details, including the time, using an anonymous employee code.
Broth said the chief has “refused to provide a conforming schedule.” The chief has handed over department personnel files for current employees, but not the requested background investigation information.
The town’s attorney said selectmen have a right to the information as the appointing authority for local police. But the chief argues he is in charge of supervising officers.
The court’s intervention is needed to provide for the efficient operation of the department, to ensure the authority of the chief and “to avoid the politicization of the administration of law enforcement in the town,” according to the chief’s petition, filed in Belknap County Superior Court on Monday.
Currier was appointed at an annual salary of $65,000 on Jan. 1, 2016. He has been with the department for 15 years.
Currier filed suit in his official capacity as chief, arguing he is entitled to a lawyer. But the town has informed him it will not pay his legal fees.