By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
Former Claremont Police Officer Jon Stone was the subject of 11 internal affairs investigations that found sustained allegations of misconduct, according to a letter from Claremont City Manager Ed Morris.
Stone, who stopped working for the Claremont Police Department some time in either 2005 or 2006, is a current member of the Claremont City Council and a Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives.
Stone didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The details of the sustained findings have not been disclosed, but Morris indicates these 11 investigations found some form of wrongdoing.
“For purposes of clarification, a ‘sustained’ finding occurs when a police officer(s) involved with those investigations are found to be in violation of City of Claremont’s and/or Claremont Police Department’s policy, standard operating procedures, NH Police Standards and Training Council’s rules/regulations or New Hampshire law,” Morris wrote.
All of the 11 sustained allegations involved Stone and his actions while on duty for the Claremont Police Department, Morris wrote. Morris also disclosed in the letter that Stone was the subject of one investigation that was not sustained for lack of evidence, and other investigations that were deemed unfounded because the evidence lacked merit.
Morris sent the letter to this reporter late last week reversing course on a right-to-know request originally filed with the city in June. After receiving the right-to-know request seeking Stone’s personnel files, the city filed a complaint in the Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport in an effort to get the court to decide what should be released and what should be withheld from public view.
Judge Brian Tucker dismissed the city’s case in August, telling attorney Shawn Tanguay to comply with the state’s right-to-know laws.
“I don’t think this is the proper way to go through it,” Tucker said. “It’s your job. You’re supposed to turn over to the requesting party the records that are not exempt, and you’re supposed to do it promptly.”
In May, the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned a nearly 30-year New Hampshire legal precedent concerning police personnel files, ruling that the files can be made public after considerations for privacy are taken into account.
Morris’s letter indicates that the city believes the sustained records fall into the category of information that belongs to the public sphere since they involve Stone’s actions as a police officer. Morris said in the letter that when the city does release the records, some information will be redacted to protect the privacy of some of those involved in the investigations.
“For example, the City intends to redact such references to: a) names of minors; b) names of parents/relatives of minors; c) birth dates; d) Social Security numbers; e) telephone numbers f) addresses of individuals and g) other personal information of those names in these records,” Morris wrote.
The unsustained and unfounded reports do not fall into the public sphere, according to Morris. The unsustained investigation alleged some misdeed during Stone’s off-duty conduct, and the two unfounded investigations would likely lead to salacious and unproven allegations being circulated, Morris wrote.
Morris’s letter is dated Aug. 28, and in it he states his intention to release the information within the next seven days unless Stone and his attorney, Peter Decato, file an objection in court. Stone and Decato have previously objected to the release of much of this information.
A nearly identical right-to-know request regarding Stone was filed with the Sullivan County Attorney’s office in June, and that request is still pending.