By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
Claremont City Councilor Jon Stone is trying again to get elected as a state representative as he continues the fight to keep his police discipline records hidden from voters.
Stone, a former city cop, was disciplined and fired from the department in 2006. At the time, he made a deal through the police union to have his discipline records destroyed.
Stone did not respond to a request for comment. He’s running as a Republican in Sullivan County’s House District 8, which includes Claremont as well as several surrounding communities.
Mike Aron, the chairman of the Sullivan County Republican Committee said the party recruited Stone to run this year, given his experience running two years ago.
“He ran before and he was one of the people we went after,” Aron said.
Stone has been fighting a right-to-know request made by this reporter two years ago seeking his internal affairs records with the police department.
While the city complied with the right-to-know request, Stone stopped Claremont from releasing his records by filing for an injunction. Stone’s injunction, currently pending in the Sullivan Superior Court, is likely to head to the New Hampshire Supreme Court before it is resolved.
Both the New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union and the New Hampshire Union Leader filed subsequent nearly identical right-to-know requests months later, though their requests are more limited in scope.
Before he was fired, Stone was the subject of 11 internal affairs investigations that found sustained allegations of misconduct, according to a letter sent by Claremont City Manager Ed Morris.
Aron declined to comment on the court case.
John Streeter, with the Sullivan County Democratic Committee, said voters ought to know what Stone may be hiding in his files.
“Anytime anyone fails to be transparent, it’s a problem for voters,” Streeter said.
Morris’s letter indicated that the city believes the sustained records fall into the category of information that belongs to the public sphere since they involve his actions as a police officer.
Stone’s motion for an injunction is under seal, but during the proceedings in open court it has been learned that he is arguing that at least four internal affairs investigations are bound up in a confidentiality agreement reached with the city. That deal came about in 2006 after an arbitration hearing, and he argues that the city cannot release information that is supposed to have been purged from his file, per the agreement.
The city has argued that while the records were purged from Stone’s personnel file in compliance with the agreement, the separate internal affairs files remain, and those records are subject to the right-to-know request.
Stone is no longer certified to work as a police officer in New Hampshire. His name does not appear on the part of the state’s Laurie List, or Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, that is public. The Laurie List maintains the names of police officers with known credibility problems. Many names on the list are currently redacted due to court challenges.
InDepthNH.org has fought in court to force the state to make the list public. Under pressure from InDepthNH.org’s lawsuit, lawmakers changed the law to allow Granite Staters to know which officers have credibility problems. Under the law, individual police officers can keep their names hidden pending court challenges to their placement. While the NH ACLU, the Union Leader and other news outlets agreed to settle their part of the lawsuit over the Laurie List, InDepthNH.org refused to settle over concerns that police officers could keep their names from going public denying defendants their right to all favorable evidence.
There are also at least 30 names that have been removed from the list through an internal confidential process at the Attorney General’s Office.
After leaving the Claremont Police Department, Stone began work with the Vermont Department of Corrections.
Stone also owns the Black Ops Arms gun store on Washington Street in Claremont.