City police to be equipped with rifles


LACONIA — The Police Department intends to equip all its officers with Colt M4 Law Enforcement Carbines, which will be mounted between the seats of cruisers while on patrol.

The department has been awarded a federal grant of $15,714 by the Bureau of Justice Assistance for the purchase 15 of the semi-automatic, .223 caliber rifles, along with slings,magazines and other accessories.

Capt. Matt Canfield said that ultimately each officer will be assigned a rifle, explaining that since the rifles are sighted to particular individuals they cannot be shared among officers. He said that officers will undergo eight hours of training in the operation and maintenance of the rifles, together with a written test. Moreover, to qualify to carry the rifle officers must demonstrate their proficiency on the firing range each year. "We train with the rifles three or four times a year," Canfield said.

Canfield said that rifles are intended for use in the event of an active shooter situation or when police are confronted with a shooter similarly armed. He said that the range and accuracy of the rifle are both much greater than that of the handguns carried by police. At the same time, the ammunition fired by the rifle has the capability of penetrating body armor.

The rifles will be secured at the station, assigned to the officers when they take their shifts and returned to the station at the end of their shifts. The rifles are stowed vertically in a locked mount between the front seats of the cruisers. Canfield said that in the past rifles were kept in cases in the trunk, which hindered officers from deploying them in a timely manner.

In addition to the Colt M4 rifles, officers also carry Remington 12 gauge shotguns, which fire non-lethal plastic projectiles that inflict sharp pain without causing puncture wounds. The shotguns are accurate to ranges between 20 and 30 feet. He said that protocol prescribes that officers fire at large muscle groups below the waist to minimize the risk of serious injury.

Canfield could not precisely recall the last time a Laconia Police Officer fired a shot while on duty, but did note "we deal with guns quite regularly."

The City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the acceptance of the grant to purchase the rifles during its meeting on Monday, Aug. 8.

Alleged drug dealer’s statements to police in overdose case can be heard by jury


LACONIA — The potentially self-incriminating statements made by a Northfield man to Tilton Police when he was charged with sales of drugs with a death resulting can be presented to the jury.

Belknap County Superior Court Presiding Justice James O'Neil ruled Thursday that Tilton Police detectives properly read Brian Watson, 51, his rights at the time of his arrest. He also determined that lead Detective Nathan Buffington reminded him of his rights before he questioned him.

"Upon review, the court concludes that the state demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt here that the defendant was read his Miranda rights," wrote O'Neill in his 10-page ruling.

Watson, through his attorney Mark Sisti, had sought to suppress, or not allow into evidence, the statement during his interview, saying he didn't waive his rights but was only informed of them.

A second prong of Sisti's motion was that Watson was only told the police had a warrant for drug sales and not drug sales with a death resulting. Sisti unsuccessfully argued that he should have been told he was being arrested for a death and not drugs sales only.

During his interview, which was played in its entirety at a hearing last week, Watson told Buffington that he was an unemployed engineer who had only recently begun selling drugs so he didn't lose his home.

He also told Buffington that he warned Seth Tilton-Fogg to not use too much of the drug because it was very powerful. He added that he knew it was fentanyl because of the way it tasted.

Police say Watson sold 21-year-old Tilton-Fogg the drugs that killed him in late April of 2015. Earlier police affidavits obtained from the 6th Circuit Court- Franklin Division said that the two knew each other through Teanna Bryson, who was Watson's girlfriend and knew Tilton-Fogg from high school.

Bryson is scheduled to testify at the trial but, as of last week, she could not be located.

Watson had been free on personal recognizance bail but violated one of his bail conditions by having Bryson in his car during a traffic stop. He is being held on $25,000 cash-only bail in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Watson's trial is scheduled to begin with opening arguments on Aug. 3. Jury selection will begin on Aug. 1.

Two seats are open for filing for Laconia School Board (65)

LACONIA — Two seats on the Laconia School Board — Ward 2 and Ward 3 — will be on the ballot for the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The filing period for the two seats opens on Tuesday, Aug. 2, and closes on Friday, Aug. 12, at the City Clerk's Office, which is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Currently Ward 2 is represented by Barbara Luther and Ward 3 by Scott Vachon.

– Michael Kitch