Leadership Academy focuses on criminal justice system

PLYMOUTH — On Wednesday, March 5, The Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Academy focused on criminal justice.

The day began with "A View from the Bench". Justice Ed Kelly, administrative Judge of the NH Circuit Court System provided an excellent example of ways the circuit court is using technology and streamlining practices to save taxpayer dollars while also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the court system. Through new technologies to improve operations, Justice Kelly provided his philosophy of compassion, respect, dignity and ways in which having an efficient and proactive system embodies his philosophy.

The first panel discussion of the day focused on Law Enforcement and featured Lt Kevin Duffy, NH State Police Troop Commander of Troop E in Tamworth and Commander of the NH State Police SWAT Unit, Chief Amy Moeller from Thornton, Commander Scott Sweet of the Attorney General's Drug Task Force, and Assistant Director Steve Temperino of the Department of Emergency Planning and Homeland Security.

The panel shared changes in current practices, the need for more proactive resources to lessen criminal activity, the challenges of being a small operation trying to serve many functions, and the importance of inter-collaboration between departments, towns, and agencies. Of particular note, was the number of repeat offenders and our state's need to provide better and more accessible mental health and substance abuse related services, treatments, and education/prevention programs.

From there, the academy traveled to Grafton County House of Corrections. Superintendent Glenn Libby and his team, provided us with a detailed understanding of past facility challenges and demonstrated to us how this new facility has created greater efficiency for the county and also focused on building employability skills and rehabilitation. Of particular note was the community farm that provided additional revenues to the House of Corrections to maintain operations as well as provide the community with a great local market.

The last panel of the day was provided in the Superior Court Complex which focused on moving criminal justice into action. Lara Saffo, Grafton County Attorney, Bob Gasser, Coordinator of Grafton County Drug Court, Shelly Golden, Coordinator of Grafton County Mental Health Course, Colleen Strout, Coordinator of Restorative Justice for Grafton County, and Cathy Brittis, Coordinator of Child Advocacy for Grafton County provided us with overviews of their programs.