County has first contest for the job in 26 years
By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The first primary contest for position of Belknap County Sheriff in 26 years pits Sgt. William Wright against former Laconia Police Chief Michael Moyer.
The men are competing for the Republican nomination to succeed Craig Wiggin, who resigned last month after more than seven years heading the department to take a full-time position teaching at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett.
Wright, who has worked for the department for 11 years, began his career in law enforcement with the Franklin Police Department in 1998, after serving four years with the U.S. Marines. He was a police officer in Belmont from 1999 until 2005, when he joined the Sheriff's Department.
He grew up in Northfield and is a graduate of Winnisquam Regional High School. He and his wife, who is an administrative assistant at the Belknap County Nursing Home, live in Belmont and have a 20-year-old daughter.
Wright is commander of the Belknap County Drug Task Force, which he said is still in a fledgling stage, and is a member of Belknap Regional Special Operations Group, and spent two years working with the U.S. Marshals Service Task Force.
He said he sees his decision to seek the office as a natural career progression and says he wants to run the department in a fiscally responsible manner while improving its outreach to the public and working in a collaborative manner with law enforcement agencies in all communities in the county to help combat the opioid crisis.
"I think we can work together in a cooperative regional approach, especially with information sharing, on the problems posed by drugs,'' said Wright.
He said he favors a review of the department by an outside agency in the wake of a legal action filed against the county by a person who alleges they were sexually assaulted by former Belknap County Sheriff Department Deputy Justin Blanchette while being transported to another jurisdiction.
Moyer, who also lives in Belmont, said his family moved to Lakeport in 1974 and that he is a graduate of Laconia High School. He joined the Laconia Police Department as a part-time officer in 1984 and became a full-time officer the following year.
He worked his way up the ranks and became police chief in 2011, serving until, 2015 when he stepped down as chief. He has kept his police certification active and is currently a part-time evidence manager with the Laconia Police.
Moyer said during his tenure the department became one of a handful of New Hampshire police departments that became a credentialed law enforcement agency – a status it maintains today.
He said he has the necessary experience to lead the department and would like to work cooperatively with agencies like the Laconia Police Department in helping combat the county's opioid crisis. "The Laconia Police have become a model for dealing with the crisis and I think we can work well with them," said Moyer.
Moyer says he isn't looking to expand the department and wants to make certain that it fulfills the duties it is charged with, such as delivery of subpoenas, prisoner transport and courtroom security, in an efficient manner.
He said he will continue the special operations group.
"Our team is very well trained," he said. "I was impressed with them when I was chief and considered them very reliable."
Moyer said he plans to review the sheriff's department's policy and procedures, especially those relating to prisoner transport.
Moyer said he plans to play an active role as sheriff and get out of the office as often as possible to meet with local law enforcement officials and the general public in all communities in the county.
The last primary contest in Belknap County was in 1990 when Deputy Sheriffs Stephen Hodges and Tom Alden faced off and Hodges won.