By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The state’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer, Attorney General John Formella addressed the 185th New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council Academy graduation Friday, telling the new officers if they are honest and hard-working, those in state law enforcement leadership “will have your backs.”
In his first opportunity to speak to the graduating class and the first such ceremony since the pandemic, Formella, the governor’s former legal counsel, gave each of the 52 officers a signed copy of the New Hampshire Constitution.
He noted that the state constitution is a reminder of the rights of individual citizens and the limitations of their powers as officers.
“Thank you for making the decision and for dedicating your careers to law enforcement,” Formella said.
He thanked the hundreds of friends and family present for everything they did to make this day possible.
“I know coming to the academy was not easy,” he said. The job, he said, requires a sort of selflessness that is rare and it demands the highest levels of dedication.
Formella told them that they and their law enforcement brothers and sisters will play a leading role in maintaining democracy and our freedoms in New Hampshire.
The graduates include officers sent from more than a dozen communities and New Hampshire State Police.
“This is an awesome responsibility,” he said.
Formella said the most important job they had to do is to protect the public.
This class, which began in May, came to the academy under the shadow of the 2019 murder of a black man, George Floyd, at the hand of a white police officer in Minnesota.
That led to Black Lives Matter and other protests against unfair policing, and just after the legislature adopted many provisions recommended by the governor’s panel on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency or LEACT, to address better-policing strategies in the state.
“It bears acknowledging that these are not easy times,” to be an officer. Formella said that as officers they will come “under public scrutiny” but “my message to you today is to not let this criticism and second-guessing distract you.”
“There are a lot of people who will never know, in fact, the vast majority of people will never know, what it is like to make a split-second decision, so they are not going to understand the work you will do…but know this; if you are honest, if you work hard, if you strive to do your jobs well and to do the right thing, those of us in state leadership, especially in law enforcement will have your back.”
Among police departments who sent cadets and now have new officers on the street include the communities of Rindge, Goffstown, Moultonborough, Atkinson, Concord, Bow, Sandown, Manchester, Barnstead, E. Kingston, Laconia, Nottingham, Deerfield, Nashua, Conway, New Ipswich, Claremont, Rochester, Hollis, Swanzey, UNH, Derry, Lancaster, Berlin, Barnstead, Winchester, Kensington, Canaan, Lebanon, Hooksett, Sunapee, Somersworth, Loudon, Newmarket, and NH State Police.