Unwelcome Matt put out for Tilton cop

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.

 

Better late than never: local GOP gets a look at Scott Walker

LACONIA — One of the eight Republicans who has announced his candidacy for the presidency — George Pataki, the former governor of New York — and a front runner for the GOP nomination in many of the early polls — Scott Walker, the sitting governor of Wisconsin— were guests of the Belknap County Republican Committee aboard M/S Mt. Washington last evening for the annual Lincoln Day cruise.

They were joined aboard by former governors Bob Ehrlich of Maryland and Jim Gilmore of Virginia, both of whom are contemplating entering the race for the GOP nomination.

The ship cast off shortly after six, without either Walker, who was behind schedule flying to Laconia Airport, or Shawn Jasper, the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, on board. Alan Glassman, who chairs the county committee, announced he considered taking vote of those on board o sail or stay, but instead compromised by sailing to Meredith Bay and then returning to The Weirs to collect the latecomers. Passengers lined the decks as Walker and his wife, Tonette, walked down the gangplank.

"Scott Walker has proven he won't miss the boat twice," one wag quipped.

Walker, likely the most conservative, and Pataki, perhaps the least conservative, among the prospective candidates, stand at opposite ends of the GOP field, which is expected to reach a score of declared candidates. They also rank at opposite ends of the current polls, with Walker topping the list of 15 likely candidates at 14.9 percent and Pataki failing to register in last place. Walker will speak at the home of New Hampshire Representative Brian Gallagher in Sanbornton this morning at 10 a.m.

An evangelical favored by the conservative base of the GOP for his uncompromising stance on social issues and for crippling the power of public employee unions, Walker touted his success with Independent voters, who may well decide the New Hampshire primary. He said he had won three of four elections in Wisconsin with 96 percent of the Republican vote while carrying the Independent vote by 12 percent.

Pataki, who favors a right to abortion, gun control and measures to address climate change, noted that Independents can vote in the primary, but was quick to add that in winning the governorship of New York three times he appealed to the base of the GOP and beyond. Although Pataki is reported to have described his candidacy as a longshot, he said he was "very upbeat" after the reception he received after announcing last week. "I intend to work hard, make the case, believe in the people and believe in myself," he said with the confidence of a man who has never lost an election.

The cruise was Ehrlich's 11th trip to New Hampshire. He said that the state reminded him of the congressional district he represented in Maryland prior to becoming governor in 2003. "We've made some friends here," he said, "and I've had opportunities to talk about the issues I want to talk about." In particular, he said that he has been asked to speak about what he called "the unfortunate chapter of Baltimore." Ehrlich , grew up where the violence erupted, said the addressing the challenge of dysfunctional schools, high employment, drug abuse and rampant crime plaguing the inner cities must be a national priority.

On his sixth visit to the state, Gilmore said he is "seriously considering" becoming a candidate. Apart from his executive experience as governor of Virginia from 1998 to 2002, he touted his experience as a counter-intelligence officer in the United States Army and chairman of a congressional panel assessing the capacity to counter domestic terrorism. He said that national security remained a high priority for the country and would be a major theme of his campaign. "Other candidates don't have my experience," he said. Gilmore announced his candidacy for the presidency in April, 2007, but abandoned his campaign less than three months later for want of sufficient funding.

Representative Frank Tilton of Laconia estimated that more than 500 tickets were sold for the cruise, the most in recent years.

Dryer fire in Laconia does $50,000 worth of damage

LACONIA — Firefighters made quick work of a dryer fire at 147 Shore Drive yesterday at 3 p.m.

Chief Ken Erickson said first responding firefighters found heavy black smoke in the basement. He said the homeowner initially tried to extinguish the fire but the heavy acrid smoke drove him away.

Erickson said there was a training session at the Laconia Central Station yesterday and crews were able to respond with nine firefighters and quickly get hoses to the basement.

He estimated the damage to be about $50,000 but said quick work of the firefighters saved about $200,000 worth of damage.

Belmont and Gilford Fire Departments assisted Laconia.