Gilford Police get body cameras

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — In a time with heightened sensitivity toward police transparency and accountability, the Gilford Police Department will become the first major department in the Lakes Region to use body cameras.

Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said the $25,000 was built into the police budget and provides each of 18 officers a replacement Taser and a Taser Axon Body Camera, which looks somewhat like a pen and can be clipped to an officer's sunglasses or lapel.

"On our end result is we feel it's important to have them on to protect the officers and the public," said Lt. Kris Kelley. "It's a transparency issue."

Bean Burpee said the department entered into an agreement with Taser for the participation in a five-year program that provides the department with new Tasers every five years and a new body camera every two-and-a-half years. He said they got a grant from Taser for $8,000 to offset the upfront costs and said the annual contract included electronic storage and insurance for the replacement costs. He said it should cost the department between $25,000 and $30,000 annually.

"We haven't had any complaints (about officer behavior)," said Bean Burpee Tuesday, but said this is a move toward greater transparency for the department as a whole and a commitment to the safety of his individual officers.

He said the next step is to complete the body camera policy and make sure it is implemented and the officers are all trained. When asked, he said the union was on board with it.

Gilford will be the first in the area to use body cameras however it is not the first department to discuss them. Belmont Lieutenant and Executive Officer Richard Mann said his department looked into a similar program but found it to be too expensive. He said all of the Belmont officers are equipped with Tasers.

Sgt. Mike Harper of the Meredith Police Department said every one of the 14 officers there has Tasers but there is no plan for the immediate future for the department to get body cameras.

About six months ago, Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams told the Police Commission there was no plan to have his officers wearing body cameras. All of the front-line police officers in Laconia are equipped with Tasers.

 

March 23 Editor's note: Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams said his command staff are looking into various grants that would assist in providing body cameras to front-line police officers in Laconia. Adams said he personally supports body cameras but has not included them in his 2016-2017 budget request. He said cameras have been added to his short-term strategic plan. Adams, who was unavailable to comment for a story about body cameras that ran on the front page of the March 23 edition wanted his position clarified. In addition, the Tilton Police are using body cameras.

03-23 Axon body camera

This is the type of body camera by Axon that clips to sunglasses, which Gilford police will be using. (Photo courtesy Taser International)

Forrester to decide on run for governor

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — State Sen. Jeanie Forrester, a Republican from Meredith who first disclosed she was weighing a run for governor last summer, said Tuesday that she will announce her decision at the Wicwas Grange on Wednesday, March 30, at 6 p.m.

Forrester is serving her third term in the Senate, where she represents 27 towns in Belknap, Grafton and Merrimack counties as well as chairs the Finance Committee and serves on the Capital Budget Committee.

A native of Michigan, Forrester came to New Hampshire in 1985 and, after graduating from the University of New Hampshire, became a aide to Gov. John H. Sununu. She has served as a town administrator in Tuftonboro and New Durham and as the executive director of Main Street Programs in Meredith and Plymouth. With her husband, Keith Forrester, she is co-owner of a small environmental firm.

Forrester quickly rose to prominence in the Senate as a staunch opponent of the Northern Pass project, which would bear more heavily on her district than any other. As chairman of the Finance Committee Forrester, a strict fiscal conservative, was in the thick of the struggle to reach settlements with Gov. Maggie Hassan over the state budget and Medicaid expansion last year.

Forrester has held her Senate seat easily. But, should she enter the governor's race and Sen. Gerry Little, the incumbent senator in District 8, be appointed Bank Commissioner, at least two of the 14 seats in the 24-member Senate would fall open. In a presidential election year that finds the Republican Party in disarray, contesting the open seats could increase the risk to the GOP's majority in the Senate.

Gilford police and community mourn death of K-9 Agbar

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The entire community is mourning the passing of K-9 Agbar, the beloved police dog who won the hearts of everyone, with a few exceptions, while working with handler Sgt. Dustin Parent from 2005 until the dog's retirement in 2014. He was about 13 years old.
Agbar od Alocha, his official name, came to the Gilford Police Department from The Czech Republic when he was 18 months old and was assigned to Parent, who was the first canine officer in the department's history.
Parent, who was only 22 years old, remembered Agbar as a "hard" dog to train and said that working with him taught him patience and perseverance – traits Parent has used throughout his career as a police officer.
"Agbar was a very vocal dog," said Parent, adding that every time the lights and sirens went on, Agbar began barking. "I lost the hearing in my right ear but it was worth it."
Parent said he never doubted that Agbar had his back and proved it to him on several occasions, including one that made national news when in 2006 Agbar fell from a second-story window in an attempt to capture a man who had pulled a knife on a woman and stole her purse.
Despite his plummet, Agbar led police to the location of the man.
Agbar had a special place in the dispatch room of the old police station where he would wait by the feet of the dispatchers while Parent was in the officers room doing paperwork, said Dispatcher Timothy Doris yesterday.
"I used to share my supper with him," Doris said, adding that he knows Agbar loved pot roast and carrots.
"He was just a big pile of mush, until he had to go to work," Doris said. "Then his ears would stand straight up and there was no stopping him."
For as much as he loved barking while at work, Parent said Agbar was very quiet at home and rarely barked unless it was at the lawnmower.
"The evil lawnmower had the way of bringing out the work in him," Parent said.
Parent said that "Agbar had no quit in him." He noted that he survived the odds twice, once in 2006 and once in 2010 when only emergency surgery saved him from a stomach problem common in German shepherds. Parent said the dog came back better and stronger after each of his close calls.
"It was a privilege to be Agbar's handler," said Parent who said the dog gave him the opportunity to learn a lot about himself as a person and as a police officer. "I loved that meat head."

03-23 Agbar the Gilford PD dog Agbar