Canfield named city police chief


Retiring Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams, left, congratulates Capt. Matt Canfield on his promotion to chief. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Chris Adams to retire as Laconia chief at the end of April


LACONIA — Matt Canfield, who began preparing for his career as a police officer while a student at Inter-Lakes High School, was chosen to succeed Chris Adams as chief of police when the Police Commission met on Thursday. He will be sworn in next Friday.

The choice of Canfield, as captain the second in command of the department as well as the sole applicant for the position of chief, came as no surprise.

"I've never read a more impressive resume," said Commissioner Armand Maheux. "He was the man," declared Doug Whittum, chairman of the commission. Noting that Canfield followed a succession of exemplary chiefs — Bill Baker, Tom Oetinger, Mike Moyer and Adams, Commissioner Tom Tarr remarked "We've been on a pretty good roll here."

Prosecutor Jim Sawyer described Canfield as "calm, cool and collected," adding that he brought his proficient, professionalism approach "has been behind every major incident."

As a teenager Canfield expected he would follow his father's footsteps to the construction business until he shadowed Officer john Egan of the Meredith Police Department and quickly found an appetite for police work. He served three years as a cadet, walking the streets on parking detail and collecting launch fees at Hesky Park and Cattle Landing. Soon he was riding along on patrol on Friday and Saturday nights and, at the initiative of Chief John Curran, attended the New Hampshire Part-Time Police Police Academy during his senior year of high school. He spent fours years as a part-time officer in both Meredith and Center Harbor before graduating with the 108th class of the New Hampshire Police Recruit Academy.

Canfield earned degrees in criminal justice from the New Hampshire Technical Institute and Granite State College together with a certificate in criminal justice FBI National Academy.

In 1997 Canfield joined the Laconia Police Department as a patrolman and steadily rose through the ranks, becoming a sergeant in 2003, lieutenant in 2008 and captain in 2008, while performing and overseeing all aspects of police work. Since 2011 he has worked in the Operations Division, of which he has been commander for the last five years. He played a leading role in securing national law enforcement accreditation for the department, introducing the criminal justice program at the Huot Technical Center and establishing the Citizen Police Academy.

"The excitement," is what first drew Canfield to police work, he said, "but ultimately the ability to help people." He explained that people officers encounter people at the worst times of their lives.

"It's pretty cool to be able to have a positive influence," he continued. He said he welcomed the opportunity to help both the victims and suspects of crime, stressing "it doesn't matter" which side of the law they're on, he wants to help.

In particular, he said that police officers are able to offer "a positive role model for kids," adding that students in the criminal justice system "go out of their way to say hello. We can set an example for them."

As chief, Canfield said he intends to follow the lead set by his predecessors by continuing to emphasize close engagement with the community.

"It's pretty easy to pick up the torch," he said. At the same time, he said, "I have some ideas of my own."

Meanwhile, Lt. Al Graton will succeed Canfield as captain, Sgt. Mike Finogle will be promoted to lieutenant and Gary Allen will become the department's sixth sergeant.

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