The problems with the Hooksett New Hampshire Police Department have served as media fodder for years. A combative chief, a pointless middle management police commission unwilling to act, all culminating in a report that substantiates something I pointed out over two and one-half years ago.
Given the history the commissions willingness to disregard this new complaint are troubling. There is clearly a pattern developing with this Police Chief. But the commissions seems to be operating from the standard entrenched bureaucracy position–ignore it, hide it, dismiss it on technicalities, obfuscate, and hope it goes away. It’s not so much that the man is guilty or innocent, its that the commission can’t be bothered, and it’s always easier to try and hide problems than confront them.
Despite 10 or more complaints about Chief Stephen Agrafiotis back in 2009 the commission lacked the bureaucratic stones to act. This precedent continued while things got worse, leading up to an effort to eliminate the commission, annual budget battles over costs and legal fees generated by the actions of the Police Department, a series of lawsuits, and the administrative leave of the Chief.
Today’s press reveals some details of a department audit that revealed poor communication, low officer and department morale, and problems with community outreach. These are all the hallmarks of a chief who created a little fiefdom and proceeded to intimidate everyone into letting him do whatever he wanted.
At present, the town seems on the road to recovery. The independent audit gives them a way to make the changes they need to to get past this chapter in the towns history. But will they do it?