Media Contact

Ari Schechter,

April 22, 2022

Report into excessive force allegations from Canaan to be made public 

CONCORD, N.H. – The New Hampshire Supreme Court today released its opinion in a police transparency case, concluding that certain police conduct information should be released to the public. In Provenza v. Town of Canaan, the ACLU of New Hampshire represented the Valley News seeking an internal report commissioned by the Canaan Police Department investigating an allegation of excessive force by police.

“Policing in New Hampshire is improved with more accountability, not less—and that’s why today’s court victory for police transparency is so important,” said Henry Klementowicz, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed unanimously that there is ‘significant’ public interest in the disclosure of this report and upheld the ruling that it be made public. We join our client, the Valley News, in looking forward to the release of this important information.”

In the ruling, the N.H. Supreme Court cited the Wisconsin Supreme Court, stating, “when an individual becomes a law enforcement officer, that individual should expect that his or her conduct will be subject to greater scrutiny. That is the nature of the job.”

In the Provenza case, Canaan Police Officer Samuel Provenza is alleged by a woman to have engaged in excessive force following a motor vehicle stop.  The commissioned report examines the incident and whether or not the force used was excessive. As alleged by the woman, Provenza pulled her out of the car by her hair, which was in a ponytail, kneed her in the left leg, and then tossed her around. The woman suffered a serious leg injury as a result of the encounter. This required surgery and extensive physical therapy, and required the woman, a heavy equipment operator with the Department of Transportation, to take time away from her job. 

The ACLU of New Hampshire and Valley News argued that the report could potentially expose the very type of misconduct that New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know Law is designed to uncover. The N.H. Supreme Court’s decision came after a November 2020 ruling from the Superior Court, which also ordered the report to be released.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court’s decision can be found here:

Additional court documents from this case can be found here: