LACONIA — About 10 people joined Police Chief Chris Adams and Sgt. Gary Hubbard yesterday at the department's first "Coffee with a Cop" event held at My Coffee House yesterday morning.
A resident from Shore Drive started off the discussion by asking Adams some basics questions about the department — mostly about equipment.
Adams said there are 40 sworn police officers who use seven "front-line" vehicles. The department has four bicycles and three motorcycles as well as a number of older vehicles used by management and detectives.
He also said there are laptops in the front-line cruisers and officers' equipment is kept up-to-date.
Adams also fielded a question about Tasers (electric stun guns) and training in their use, likely spurred by the recent accidental sidearm shooting of a man by a Tulsa, Oklahoma reserve deputy who said he thought he was grabbing his Taser.
Hubbard demonstrated for the attendees how both weapons are secured and carried in different spots.
People had quite a few questions about property crime as it relates to drug abuse and the chief agreed that the two are interrelated in the city.
Adams also said most burglaries and thefts are crimes of "opportunity" and rarely do the police encounter people who actually have a plan.
"I know we all like to think we live in rural New Hampshire and shouldn't have to worry about locking out doors," Adams said.
Hubbard said most homes that are burglarized have open windows or doors on the first floor or there are air conditioners that can be pushed in if not secured properly.
Adams also recommended locking the doors and window of motor vehicles.
As to drug abuse, Adams said the LPD has two detectives dedicated to the drug unit and they work closely with the N.H. State Police, other area police departments and the state drug task force.
A considerable amount of discussion went into they types of drugs police seeing, other than heroin and opiates, and what the effects of them are.
Adams and Hubbard both agreed they still see a fair amount of marijuana and alcohol usage among young people but also said many of the people with heroin and opiate addictions are older.
"We've have overdoses as old as 57," said Hubbard.
Including the new addition of a Prevention, Enforcement and Treatment officer, Adams said the city has added two extra officers to the force in the past few years and he expects the City Council to fund the PET officer a permanent position.
Others wanted to know what people should do if they found needles and other drug-related items on the ground now that the snow has melted. Adams told them to notify police and not to touch them.
One lady wanted to know what a person should do if they come upon a car accident that police had not yet responded to.
Hubbard told her the best thing to do was to pull over, stay in her car and call 9-1-1 if possible. He said getting out of a car and going into traffic, especially on a highway or in the evening, can be very dangerous.
"Don't put yourself in any danger," he said, adding that drivers very often don't pay as close attention as they should to what's going on around them. "Your car is the safest place."
Adams noted that many times he has heard about well-intended people getting hit and killed on highways while they were helping someone else.
After the community meeting, Adams said he was pleased with the turnout and said there would be more sessions over the spring and summer in different venues.
He said he was also looking at bringing some other officers who perform different tasks so the community can understand what they do. He gave detectives, polygraph operators, juvenile officers, the school resource officer and the DARE officer as examples of some of the varied types of specialized training many of his staff have.