Gilford arrests up, one more officer needed


GILFORD — Citing steep increases in the number of arrests, the Police Department has requested to add a full-time officer to its ranks in the 2017 town budget.

Currently the department has 18 full-time officers. However, Lt. Kris Kelley noted that frequently the department is operating with with 16 or 17, as officers may be ill, injured, in court or undergoing training. In 2014 both the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee unanimously agreed to hire an additional officer, the first added to department since 2003, in response to increased calls for service, felony investigations and arrests.

Since then, Kelley said that calls for service have remained stable at around 21,000, but the nature of calls has changed, leading to a significant rise in the number of arrests. There were 529 arrests in 2014, 629 in 2015 and more than 835 so far this year, representing an increase of 57 percent with another quarter of this year remaining.

By comparison, Belmont, with 18 officers, has reported 325 arrests; Meredith, with 14 officers, has reported 178 arrests; and Alton, with 16 officers, has reported 145 arrests. Gilford has made 46 arrests for each officer while Belmont has made 18, Meredith 13 and Alton 9.

"We are definitely struggling to keep up with the activity," Kelley said. "We are just very, very busy."

Kelley traced a significant share of the increase in arrests to the prevalence of drug use, which spawns associated criminal activity like burglary and theft. At the same time, he suggested that attendance at both the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion and Gunstock Mountain Resort has grown, remarking that "where there are more people, there are more problems."

Kelley said Town Administrator Scott Dunn and the Board of Selectmen have indicated their unwillingness to fund the request, which remains to be referred to the Budget Committee.

"We're trying to create some awareness," he said, adding that residents have come to expect prompt and effective service from their police.

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Judge rules police search that found loaded gun is OK


LACONIA — A judge has determined that a city police officer’s search of a car’s glove box that had been zip-tied shut was lawful and consistent with the police department’s search policy.
An attorney representing Izaiah Conway, 19, of Laconia had argued that when an officer used a screwdriver found in the car to peek into the glove box because it wouldn’t open, he violated his own department’s policy and Conway’s Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure.
Conway was stopped by another officer and arrested immediately on an outstanding warrant. Since his car was parked partially in the road, a second officer determined he needed to be towed and set about to conduct a routine and noninvestigatory search.
He first tried to open the glove box, realized it was tied and proceeded to the rest of the car. He found a backpack in the trunk that contained a pipe the officer believed was evidence of drug use. The officer seized the backpack and stopped searching the rest of it with the intention of seizing it and getting a warrant to search further for additional contraband.
The officer continued the inventory search to see if the car should be impounded by police or towed to a tow lot.
He returned to the glove box, which is one of the places the tow policy says must be searched. Once the officer looked in the opening, he noticed the butt of a handgun that, after he towed the car to the police station to get a search warrant, ended up being loaded, and that the glove box held an additional magazine that was also loaded.
Judge James O’Neil ruled this week that the officer’s search was consistent with the police department’s towing policy that states that if a car is to be towed, it can be searched.
O’Neil noted specifically that there was no damage done to the glove box when the officer looked into it, which is one of the conditions placed on officers in the police tow policy.
“According to LPD policy, an officer is required to search the entire vehicle, including the glove box, before a vehicle is towed,” wrote O’Neill. “Under the policy, Officer (Kyle) Jepson had the affirmative obligation to fully inventory the defendant’s vehicle before he allowed the tow company to take possession of the vehicle.”
Conway is charged, among other things, with being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon and possession of drugs.


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Former city man charged with driving as a habitual offender


LACONIA — A former city man who has been deemed a habitual offender is being held on $5,000 cash only bail for allegedly trying to avoid a city police officer. 

Jason Gauthier, 35, of 11B Oak St. in Boscawen is being charged with resisting arrest, a felony charge of driving after being deemed an habitual offender, negligent driving, and endangering the welfare of a child who was in a car seat in the back of the car he was driving on Sept. 21 at 6:36 p.m.

According to affidavits, Gauthier was spotted by an off-duty Laconia police officer who saw him turn onto Highland Street from Gilford Avenue, ignoring the stop sign. The off-duty officer knew Gauthier and that he is a habitual offender.

She gave an update that he was driving a white Hyundai toward Pine Street but had turned around and was headed back down Highland Street.

An on-duty officer saw Gauthier at the intersection of Gillette and Highland.
She learned from the other officer that Gauthier had dropped off a person on Highland Street and he later identified him and the first officer that Gauthier had a child in the back seat.

Affidavits said Gauthier's driver's license was revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles and he was deemed to be a habitual offender on July 29, 2014. He has been convicted of driving after being deemed an habitual offender on Oct. 24, 2006; Feb. 13, 2008; March 19, 2009; March 29, 2010; and May 15, 2014.

Gauthier has a bail hearing scheduled for next week.

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