House passes bill to create police misconduct review panel

CONCORD, NH (AP) — New Hampshire is moving forward with plans to create a statewide independent panel to hear complaints about police misconduct, though some don’t think so. that he would be sufficiently independent.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee heard testimony on Friday about a bill that would create a single entity to receive complaints alleging misconduct by law enforcement officers. The proposal would implement a key recommendation of the Commission on Accountability, Community and Transparency in Law Enforcement that Republican Gov. Chris Sununu created in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It was written after months of work by a study committee last fall.

“It provides oversight and accountability in the investigation of police misconduct, it increases transparency of confirmed violations, and it promotes consistency and uniformity across police departments as to what actually constitutes misconduct,” the official said. Senior Assistant Attorney General Matthew Broadhead. “And it balances those important interests while safeguarding the privacy interests of individual police officers who are the subject of frivolous complaints against them.”

John Scippa, director of the state’s Police Standards and Training Board, said that in the past complaints were often handled at the local level with no consistency across the state. Under the proposal, the new committee would review all investigations and decide whether they were conducted properly and whether a hearing before council is warranted, he said.

“It provides due process. It provides for an open and transparent process for hearings and decisions. It increases public participation in the process,” he said. “It provides clearly defined expectations of what a valid investigation is, and it provides a central repository of sustained findings of misconduct with public disclosure.”

The New Hampshire chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a group representing litigators broadly supported the bill, but suggested that the committee’s membership be adjusted so that it does not skew in favor of law enforcement. ‘order. As written, the bill calls for 10 of the 17 members to be connected to law enforcement.

“We want this advice to succeed,” said attorney Anthony Sculimbrene. “His appearance of fair and balanced approaches to issues is needed, and as it stands, there are no representatives on the panel of criminal defense attorneys or the ACLU.”

Scippa and others said the panel’s membership matches similar committees that review complaints against other professionals, including lawyers, judges and doctors.

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