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Laconia Police trained to use 'verbal judo' to avoid violence

LACONIA — "I've been here for 21 years," Police Chief Chris Adams said yesterday, "and its been at least that long since there has been an officer involved shooting."

Adams explained whenever an officer applies force, which includes manhandling a suspect, displaying a weapon and firing a gun, a report is filed and reviewed. Each year all such incidents are compiled in a "use of force report" for the Police Commission.

Captain Bill Clary said that in 2013 there were 121 reports filed, 23 of them arising from incidents involving more than one officer. Some measure of force was associated with 2.5 percent of the nearly 1,400 arrests made that year. What he called "open hand," or manual force, accounted for 56, or almost half, of the incidents in which force was used. Tasers were displayed on six occasions and firearms were drawn at 36 incidents. The only shots fired by officers in 2013 were to kill seven animals.

Clary said that firearms were most often displayed when several officers were arresting a felon with a recorded propensity for violence or believed to be in possession of weapons. He said that two officers would hold the suspect at gunpoint while third handcuffed him.
Clary anticipated the report for 2014, which will be presented to the commission in January, will contain similar numbers, though with some 200 fewer arrests the percentage accompanied by use of force could increase. He said that while he had not compared the data with that of other departments, he believed the number of times officers use force is "very low."

Adams stressed that officers are trained to take steps to avoid violent confrontations. "We call it 'verbal judo,'" he remarked, referring to the practice of dissuading suspects against provoking a confrontation. "The goal is always for nobody to get hurt," Adams said.

Likewise, Clary emphasized that "we are trained to deescalate incidents." He said that the threat of force has lessened the need to apply it, noting that since pepper spray and tasers (electric stun guns) were introduced their use has diminished as their effects have become known. What Clary dubbed "drunk muscles," the tendency of some to seek confrontation while under the influence of alcohol, accounts for many cases where force is used. "If we follow our training, everybody gets to walk home," he said.

But, Adams acknowledged that because police work can be dangerous and not all conflict can be avoided, officers also train to respond to threats to themselves and others. Several years ago the department, with grant funding, purchased a laser-activated simulator that presents officers with different scenarios requiring them to respond with appropriate levels of force, including deadly force, "There are some dangerous people out there," the chief said. "police officers can't wait to become victims."

Last Updated on Friday, 12 December 2014 01:17

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Gunstock opening 2 trails from summit

GILFORD — With its significant investments in snowmaking, the crew at Gunstock Mountain Resort has stockpiled snow at the summit, will groom the terrain today and open two routes from the summit first thing Friday morning.

"Gunstock believes in burying a trail with snow before we open it," said general manager Greg Goddard. "We have been diligently investing in our high capacity,m energy efficient snowmaking system every year," he continued. "It's when variable weather like we have had over the past several days we see the payoff in opening new trails after a storm."

Goddard said that Dan Carbonneau, who supervises snowmaking operations, and his crew have been amassing snow on the mountain, which with the passing of the rain will be moved to open the two routes from the summit. They are also working on Red Hat and Tiger in anticipation of opening the Tiger lift as well as at the Nordic Center and Tubing Hill.

Seven trails — Daisy, Peepsight, Misfire, Try Me, Smith, Upper Smith and Tiger — have been open since last week.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 02:51

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Newfound recalculates tuition formula to sweeten incentive for Hill students to attend

BRISTOL — The Newfound Area School Board has sweetened the pot for the Hill School District, backing out some of the costs that were built into a proposed tuition calculator in an effort to present a figure that is palatable enough to keep the negotiations going.
Hill is seeking to withdraw from its Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement with Franklin and send its middle and high school students to another district. Newfound, Winnisquam, and Merrimack Valley are under consideration, with Franklin hoping to persuade Hill to stay there. Newfound had met with the most favorable response, until Hill learned that Newfound's tuition would be more than $1,000 per student more than the other contenders would charge.

Hill currently sends approximately 90 grades 6 through 12 students to Franklin. Students in the current sophomore and junior classes at Franklin High School would be given the option to complete their secondary education at that school.
Benjamin LaRoche of Bristol, a member of the Newfound board's Hill subcommittee, proposed on Dec. 8 that the board approve a revised tuition calculator developed by Business Administrator Michael Limanni that backed out school board and central office costs from the calculation. Doing so brings the base tuition close to $13,000 per student, in line with what Hill currently pays to Franklin.
Jeff Levesque of Groton objected, saying it would be unfair to taxpayers in the Newfound Area School District who bear those costs.
Don Franklin of Hebron, also a member of the Hill subcommittee, countered that Hill would not have a voice on the school board and that the cost of operating the central office would be the same whether or not Hill students were attending local schools.
School Administrative Unit 4 Superintendent Stacy Buckley pointed out that, under the plan, Hill would remain a member of SAU 18 and would be paying Franklin for central office support. She said issues with Hill students would be handled by the Hill School Board and Franklin's superintendent.
Limanni also pointed out that any costs incurred by Hill students would be billed to them. Hill students participating in the summer program or after-school events would pay for them separately.
The tuition agreement also would exclude transportation costs, as Hill would pay for its own busing; and Hill would be responsible for any special needs costs for its students.
Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater, serving as chair in the absence of Danbury's Ruby Hill, said he objected to the tuition agreement on a number of points, from the cost differential with what local residents pay to the "gray areas" in the agreement that could lead to problems down the road.
Migliore compared the administration of the complex tuition agreement to the handling of the grant for Project Promise, an after-school program. Poor oversight had resulted in a breach of the Project Promise grant terms and the school district is having to repay much of the grant funding as a result. Migliore said a 10-year tuition agreement, with the probability that there would be different board members and different administrators handling it before it comes up for renewal, could prove to be another expensive mistake for the school district.
Having supported an effort to establish full-day kindergarten next year and hearing objections that moving forward that quickly was not feasible, Migliore observed that no one was objecting to quickly cobbling together the Hill tuition agreement in time for a vote in March.
Buckley took issue with the comparisons, saying Project Promise was a grant program that came with stipulations that should have been followed but were not. The tuition agreement, once crafted, will determine the costs and a change in leadership will not affect that, she said.
As for the other point, Buckley noted that allowing students to attend Newfound does not change the programs or require any reconfiguration of classes. Full-day kindergarten, on the other hand, would require staffing changes and classroom realignment, a much more complicated undertaking.
Limanni reiterated that any final agreement would incorporate safeguards to ensure that Hill would be paying for any new or unanticipated costs associated with its students attending Newfound. "This tuition calculator, coming in not much over $13,000, would get our foot in the door with good faith and still let us justify it by asking if we're being fair to our taxpayers," he said.
Just before the vote, Levesque said he still objected to leaving off the cost of the superintendent's office, but he said the value of having an agreement that would bring in approximately $800,000 in revenue exceeds the $60,000 difference in the tuition calculation.
In the end, the school board voted, 5-1, to direct the Hill subcommittee to enter into negotiations with the Hill School Board, using the tuition calculator as presented by Limanni as the basis for a tuition agreement.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 02:48

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Rumney chimney fire displaces resident

RUMNEY — A chimney fire Monday that extended into the walls has left a Buffalo Road woman temporarily homeless.

Fire Chief David Coursey said firefighter were called to the home by the owner who said smoke was coming from the walls. He said she was unharmed and able to leave the home on her own.

He said it appears the thimble for the wood stove was very close to the wood in the walls and the heat eventually dried out the wood and this time it ignited.

Coursey said his department was able to extinguish the fire without any aid from neighboring departments.

He said the home is repairable but there is considerable smoke and water damage.

The N.H. Red Cross is assisting the woman who he said is staying with neighbors.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 02:38

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