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New Hampshire policy organization offers suggestions for police reforms

A city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, police vehicle is seen Aug. 18, 2014.

(The Center Square) – As the debate over police reform rages nationwide, one public policy entity in New Hampshire has put forth some suggestions for how to address it in the state.

The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy has created eight proposals regarding the reformation of police for New Hampshire. The proposals include

• outlawing chokeholds or neck compression;

• making police discipline files public;

• mandating body cameras and verbal warnings;

• improving screening and treatment for PTSD;

• requiring officers to intervene, stop and report misconduct;

• ending officer immunity from civil lawsuits;

• pursuing more training for de-escalation; and

• adopting better policies involving use-of-force.

The paper notes that police officers are public employees and have a duty to serve citizens and be accountable to them.

“In our republican form of government, all public employees, including police officers, exercise only the powers granted them by the people,” attorney Chuck Douglas wrote in the paper. “All public employees serve the citizens and are accountable to them. The powers granted to public employees are altered from time to time as the people demand. High-profile abuses of police power in recent years have led to widespread demands for increased accountability.”

Douglas writes that the eight reforms would help in reducing improper use of force by police officers across the state and would make the officers, as well as their departments, more accountable to the public.

“Each in its own way would increase trust and accountability by improving the police department culture,” Douglas wrote. “This is not a comprehensive list of reforms. Rather, it offers a set of proposals that would generate powerful results in a relatively short period of time. Granite Staters who cherish individual liberty and government accountability should find these proposals appealing, regardless of their partisan leanings.”

Douglas writes that when it comes to ending immunity for civil lawsuits, it should be done because families and individuals should be compensated by the government when one of its employees engages in misconduct.

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