Praise directed at Laconia Police Department at accreditation hearing

LACONIA — About 15 people from local public service agencies, police departments, City Hall and the city School District spoke in support of the city Police Department becoming re-accredited at a public hearing last night.

Speaking first was City Councilor Brenda Baer who had a special thank you to the Police Department for their role in taking Wyatt Park in the South End from a place where many feared to go to a family-friendly park where people are welcomed.

"They returned the park to the citizens of that area," Baer said to the two examiners from CALEA or the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation.

According to Chief Joseph Bartlett of CELEA, who is also a retired interim Police Chief in Greenville, North Carolina, there are 480 different standards a department must meet to become CALEA certified.

There are 13 policing agencies in New Hampshire that are CALEA-accredited including Laconia, Manchester, Nashua, Keene, Durham, UNH, and the Strafford County Sheriffs Department. Accreditation lasts three years and Laconia was first certified in 2010, under retired Chief Mike Moyer.

Part of the process is a public hearing.

Mayor Mike Seymour said professionalism is the word that most often come to mind when he thinks about the Laconia Police Department.

He said not only are city police officers professional and confident they are compassionate — something he said he noticed during a ride-along shortly after he was first elected mayor.

The principals of Woodland Heights and Elm Street Elementary Schools complimented them on their professionalism and visibility.

Kevin Michaud, who relocated from Maine last year said they are the best police department he has worked with since he's been an educator. He said the police are friendly, not intimidating, and "the kids want to interact with them."

Dennis Doten of Woodland Heights thanked them for their compassion and professionalism in the wake of a car accident that took the life of a Middle School student while other students looked on and in planning and coordinating emergency response guidelines following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Others speaking included Carol Pierce of the Human Rights Committee, City Manager Scott Myers, Gilford Police Chief Kevin Keenan (a Laconia resident), and UNH Chief of Police Paul Dean.

Capt. Matt Canfield said the CALEA assessing team has signed off on the 480 standards and will take their findings to the Executive Committee for a targeted fall accreditation.