CONCORD, N.H. – Four members of Governor Sununu’s Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community, and Transparency today released the following statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 3-2 vote yesterday to adopt an amendment to Senate Bill 96 that stripped key recommendations made by the LEACT Commission and instead replaced them with a study commission. The stripped provisions included those that would require demographic data collection on police stops and arrests.
Joseph Lascaze of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, James T. McKim of the NAACP Manchester, Ronelle Tshiela of Black Lives Matter Manchester, and Criminal Defense Representative Julian Jefferson said:
“As members of the Governor’s LEACT Commission, we are appalled and deeply disappointed that unanimous recommendations on police reform, from both community members and law enforcement, were stripped yesterday from Senate Bill 96. This will serve to only worsen the perception that our political leaders stand opposed to confronting racism and racial injustice in the Granite State.
“Collecting data on the race and ethnicity of people who interact with police officers is critical to ensuring that the state is able to rely on facts in order to combat racism and implicit bias. These data collection provisions—originated out of extensive concerns from the New Hampshire community—were unanimously recommended by the LEACT Commission, were the product of extensive negotiations, and were agreed upon by all stakeholders, including law enforcement groups, the New Hampshire Police Chiefs Association, the Governor, the Department of Justice, the Department of Safety, and groups advocating in support of racial justice. We cannot understand the rational or imperative for removing this language from the bill.
“We do not oppose a study commission on the issue of school resource officers in the schools. However, it is incredibly disheartening and frustrating to see New Hampshire lawmakers oppose investigating and analyzing data which would shed light on claims of discrimination and racism. The Senate has the ability to rectify this and to reinstate these provisions in SB96. We implore them to take this opportunity to repair SB96 and enable our state to do this important work of collecting data about policing in our state.
“Not only were these recommendations the product of the LEACT commission speaking with one voice, but several of its members – including law enforcement – took the time and effort to support the legislation at the public hearing.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision effectively guts this bill and is a disservice to the New Hampshire community members who shared their experiences of discrimination, as well as the LEACT members who spent hundreds of hours meeting, hearing testimony, and formulating recommendations to help make New Hampshire a more equitable place.”