"I decided that if the police couldn't catch the gangsters, I'd create a fellow who could." —Chester Gould
The Town of Dunbarton welcomed the arrival of Daniel Sklut as its' new Police Chief. I wish him well, best of luck and success in his service to Dunbarton residents.
Being a police chief in New Hampshire is tough business with small town political considerations. One constant here in the Granite state is a frequent media feature of some small town police chief butting heads with town officials. Controversies range from simple differences of opinion to outright misconduct. To be sure, it is not at all uncommon for some of these little fiefdoms with their entrenched corrupt selectmen to, "run a chief out of town on a rail" (to use that analogy) because of some benign personal disagreement.
One little factoid about the hiring of the new chief that caused me to pause is that Chief Sklut comes from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Small Town Massachusetts is a very different place than Small Town New Hampshire. The people's Republic has very different laws than does the Granite State. Things that are illegal in Massachusetts are not illegal in New Hampshire. I am not suggesting that the Chief cannot make the leap. Most Chief's who have the skill sets to land such positions intimately understand the often vast differences. But one of the most common difficulties in this transition has been the issuance of New Hampshire Pistol and Revolver Licenses. While Massachusetts is a discretionary issue state, New Hampshire is a shall issue state where, for a Chief to deny the issuance of a license, he or she must state with specificity the nature of such a denial.
There have been examples of creative interpretation with the existing statute and such examples tend to cost citizens considerable expense in legal fees to challenge denials. (Don't think for a second that just because the law requires a judge to award fees and costs that they do). Second is the level of political activism we citizens have witnessed from the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. The most vocal opponents to changes in New Hampshire Gun laws have come from Police Chiefs. Not all of them, but the most vocal core of the Chief's organization seems to be Granite State Law Enforcement Officials who have come from the Bay State, New York, New Jersey and other places not New Hampshire. One New Hampshire Police Chief (who asked that I not write his name) stated to me that such activism is, "Stepping over the line, irrespective of what one's views are on guns or the second amendment." It is one thing to be heard as a private citizen, but it is another thing to pimp ones' paid municipal position for political purposes. (his words, not mine). It is a towns prerogative and responsibility to seek the best and most qualified for the position of Chief Law Enforcement for their towns. In the same respect, it is the towns duty to ensure the individual hired enforces the law evenly with a firm, fair and impartial approach and a law enforcement style that aptly fits a community. let us hope that includes a cultural shift from the Bay State way to the Granite State way.