At his COVID-19 presser Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu announced he’s “endorsing every single recommendation” from the New Hampshire Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community, and Transparency (LEACT), which he established in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
And that includes mandating body cameras for state police.
After commending the 14 members of the commission for their work, Sununu noted the report was released in three parts: training, reporting, and investigation of police misconduct and community relations.
“Today we are here to announce that we are endorsing every single recommendation from all three parts of the report,” Sununu said. “We are releasing a roadmap or plan for these reforms which details the avenues through which each reform will be implemented.”
Among the recommendations are increased diversity training, as well as “the establishment of a single, neutral and independent statewide entity to receive complaints alleging misconduct regarding all sworn and elected law enforcement officers.” And perhaps the most controversial element — body cameras for state cops.
“I plan to release an executive order in the next week or so” on actions he can implement via executive action, including body cams. Sununu said. “That’s something we can probably contract with right away, and as soon as we can identify the funding we’re going to go forward with it.”
“I can’t mandate cameras for the localities, that would require legislation,” Sununu acknowledged. “But I think the state police can step up and should step up and be the first to set an example for the communities.”
Sununu is also supporting the release of the “Laurie List,” another LEACT Commission recommendation. It contains the names of some 250 cops who’ve been identified as having credibility problems. Officers on the list will have six months to appeal before it’s made public.
The question now is how the New Hampshire Troopers Association, which represents the state police, will react. In the past, the union has sent mixed messages about body cameras and their use, and they have opposed the release of the Laurie List.
The Troopers Association broke with Sununu over a contract dispute and endorsed Feltes. Since then, Feltes has flipped his position on commuting the sentence of a cop killer on death row (he now opposes it) and embraced an aggressive plan to legalize recreational drug use, one first proposed by his pro-pot primary opponent Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky.
Feltes is believed to be the first major candidate supporting full marijuana legalization to be endorsed by the state police union. Feltes has also been endorsed by the progressive group NextGen America, who support the #DefundThePolice movement and hosted a “Get to Know Dan Feltes” town hall Thursday night.
Feltes backed body cameras in 2016, but he declined repeated requests for comment regarding Sununu’s announcement.
Sununu, meanwhile, is moving ahead, calling on the new legislative majority and minority leaders elected this November to co-sponsor the legislation to enact all the LEACT reforms.
“As I have long said, New Hampshire has some of the best law enforcement in the country, but there is always room to improve, grow, and adapt. I am confident these reforms, which received unanimous support from the Commission, will be enacted with bipartisan support.”