TILTON — At least two area police departments have sent identical letters to this town's police chief, Robert Cormier, informing him that Patrol Officer Mathew Dawson's authority under inter-town law enforcement authority agreements will be limited in their own communities, The Daily Sun has learned.
The letter, dated May 1, 2014, was made available to The Daily Sun by a high-ranking member of a police department and was authenticated by a high-ranking member of a second department, was sent to Tilton Police after Dawson was reinstated as a patrol officer (he was a detective corporal) following a six-month period of paid administrative leave. During his leave, Dawson's possible role in brokering a stolen credit card was being investigated by the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department.
Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier said yesterday he couldn't comment on the matter because it is a personnel issue.
"Officer Dawson will only be called on to respond into the town of (deleted) for cases of extreme emergency. This call can only come from the highest ranking officer on duty and will be requested over the radio, so it may be recorded and documented by the dispatch of jurisdiction. Once the emergency situation has cleared, Officer Dawson will be sent back to his own jurisdiction immediately," the letter reads.
The letter also said the departments involved would continue to respond to Tilton. However, in cases where Dawson is the only officer involved, the responding department will do so only as long as any safety to the public or Dawson exists and then will return immediately to their own jurisdiction.
"In conclusion, the (deleted) department will continue to work closely with your agency with the listed changes involving ... Dawson. When she returns to the area, (Belknap) County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen will be asked to review this document as she did the original extended authority agreement," the letter continues.
The Daily Sun also obtained a template copy of an addendum to the "Extended Authority Agreement" that states in part that "the requesting agency has determined Officer Mat Dawson of the Tilton Police Department does not meet said agencies standards for qualification to serve or perform law enforcement functions within its jurisdiction."
When contacted earlier this week, Guldbrandsen acknowledged writing a comparable document as a template but said she didn't specifically include Dawson's name nor does she know how many, if any, police agencies signed it.
Dawson was not criminally charged following the credit card use investigation, however two other men were, Richard Minor who pleaded guilty to stealing the card from a Tilton homeowner in whose home he was working and Richard McNeil, a former Laconia man who was indicted for one count of receiving stolen property. Both indictments were handled by the Grafton County Attorneys Office but were or are being tried in the Belknap County Superior Court.
The investigation into Dawson centered on his role in allegedly arranging for the sale of the card to his uncle, Ted Dawson, who allegedly used it at Lowe's Home Improvement Stores in Gilford and Tilton. The card was worth $2,000 in merchandise and, according to the Merrimack County Sheriff's investigation, was allegedly sold to Ted Dawson for $400.
McNeil's trial is scheduled for July. Last month, he failed to appear in court for his pre-trial hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was located in Manchester and is being held in the N.H. State Prison for Men for a parole violation.
Both Dawsons are scheduled to appear as defense witnesses in McNeil's trial.
Additional fall-out from the investigation led Dawson to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to criminally implicate himself in the stolen credit card case rather than testify for the state in a rape case he investigated in 2013. On the stand his credibility could have been challenged on cross-examination.
Judge James O'Neill's decision to grant Dawson his Fifth Amendment protections came after a hearing where it was disclosed that he was the subject of a "Laurie order" or a determination by a judge that there is information in his personnel file that could cast credibility on his ability to testify truthfully in a court proceeding.
A jury acquitted the accused.
An extended authority agreement is a formal agreement between neighboring police agencies that allows cross-jurisdictional authority for on-duty officers. Agreements like these are common and are approved by department chiefs.
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