State Audit Reveals Problems With Police Oversight in NH

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NHPSTC website

Arthur D. Kehas Criminal Justice Training Facility and Campus

Editor’s note: The Audit Division of the Office of Legislative Budget Assistant is the audit office of the New Hampshire General Court, according to its website. The Division conducts audits of State agencies and programs, providing oversight over the executive and judicial branches of government.  InDepthNH.org publishes original documents when possible.

Read full audit of New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council dated February 2019:http://indepthnh.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/PSTC_2019-3.pdf

NH Police Standards and Training Council Members

  • Chief David P. Cahill – Sunapee Police Department, Chairman
  • Chief William R. Hart – Londonderry Police Department, Vice-Chairman
  • Members
    • Commissioner Helen Hanks – New Hampshire Department of Corrections
    • Chief Carlo Capano – Manchester Police Department
    • Sheriff Brian Valerino – Coos County, Sheriff’s Office
    • Sheriff Charles S. Massahos – Rockingham County, Sheriff’s Office
    • Chief Peter Morency – Berlin Police Department
    • Justice Melissa Countway-Vetanze – Circuit District Division
    • Justice Sawako T. Gardner – 10th Circuit District Division
    • Chancellor Dr. Ross Gittell – Community College System of New Hampshire
    • Colonel Christopher Wagner – New Hampshire State Police
    • A.G. Gordon MacDonald – New Hampshire Department of Justice
    • Mr. Mark Long
    • Ms. Debra Noyes
    • – source: NH Police Standards and Training Council website

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLICE STANDARDS AND TRAINING COUNCIL

Office of Legislative Budget Assistant Audit

Audit’s Executive Summary: The Police Standards and Training Council (PSTC) had a dual mission of training law enforcement officers and ensuring officers achieved and maintained standards.

We surveyed law enforcement hiring authorities and found 85.1 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the training recruits received.

Additionally, we found training operations and policies generally aligned with industry standards. While we found the PSTC was generally efficient and effective, we found several areas of PSTC operations in need of improvement.

The PSTC was tasked with enforcing statutory standards and further developing the minimum standards of law enforcement officers. The PSTC implemented these directives using a series of applications, affidavits, and administrative processes.

However, these procedures omitted crucial standards required by statute, such as drug and psychological screenings.

Documentation demonstrating compliance with PSTC standards was inconsistently completed by law enforcement hiring authorities, was inefficiently collected, and went largely unaudited by the PSTC.

Although the complaint and disciplinary processes were generally effective at ensuring most officers participating in egregious misconduct would be identified and disciplined, the processes contained gaps in jurisdictional authority and reporting mechanisms.

For example, law enforcement agencies could suspend an officer for a long period of time for dishonesty or disrespecting the law but these specific instances of misconduct would never come before the PSTC unless the officer was discharged, involved in a criminal matter, or found to have possessed or used a controlled substance.

While we note training operations produced generally positive survey results from graduates and hiring authorities, we found the curriculum development processes lacked assurance that recent curriculum decisions were made effectively based on a current job task analysis.

Additionally, inconsistent management of instructors resulted in the inefficient use of instructional resources by allocating PSTC staff time to monitor non-PSTC instructors. We also found the overall management of PSTC operations was hindered by lack of a fully developed strategic plan, performance and risk management systems, and a less than fully functional electronic database.

We found this potentially limited the PSTC’s ability to monitor and measure organizational performance and risk. Inefficient information systems burdened both the PSTC staff and law enforcement agencies with additional administrative tasks.

As a public regulatory body, the PSTC was also required to conduct transparent meetings, free of conflict, with proper statutory authority. Nevertheless, we found some meetings lacked quorum due to noncompliance with financial disclosure requirements and used inconsistent recusal practices.

Lastly, the PSTC frequently conducted disciplinary hearings in non-public session under questionable and inconsistent authority which may require further consideration by the Legislature and more explicit guidance from the Department of Justice.

Read full audit here.

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