CONCORD — Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard, who is facing DWI charges, has acknowledged that he has a drinking problem and is receiving help to deal with the issue.
“This incident has helped me see the extent of a problem I tried to ignore for too long,” Hilliard said in the first extended statement since his arrest on Aug. 9 in Tilton.
Hilliard, 58, who has been Merrimack County Sheriff since 2007 – and who before that was police chief in Northfield – was arrested by Tilton police after they received a call about a car operating erratically. He is facing charges of aggravated DWI, DWI, and having an open container of alcohol inside the car.
An elected official, Hilliard remains in office.
Hilliard’s statement, which was released through his attorney, Jared Bedrick, makes no direct mention of his arrest or the charges against him, referring only to recent “mistakes [which] have been the subject of media attention.”
“This incident has helped me see the extent of a problem I tried to ignore for too long. Despite my embarrassment, I’m nonetheless thankful for being led to a wonderful therapist who has been helping me since four days after my arrest,” his statement reads.
“In my 38 years working to help others with alcohol issues, I never thought I would end up in this position, and I fully accept responsibility for creating this situation.”
The charges Hilliard is facing include one for aggravated DWI, which alleges that his blood alcohol content at the time of his arrest was more than 0.16 — twice the legal limit.
“Owning up to my actions with the County Commissioners and the Chiefs of Police was among the most difficult tasks of my life. Since that time, I have been overwhelmed with support from my friends and colleagues, especially those in the law enforcement community who understand the high standards of our profession that I have always tried to meet,” the statement continues.
Hilliard waived an arraignment hearing on Aug. 26 and entered pleas of not guilty to all charges.
The state Police Standards and Training Council, which is responsible for certifying law enforcement officers, has asked the Franklin District Court for copies of the charges and to be kept apprised of any developments in the case.
Hilliard’s next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30.