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Hancock officer warns against dangers of alcohol, drug misuse

  • Hancock police officer John Minichiello spoke about the dangers of drugs and alcohol misuse during a presentation at the ConVal school gym on Tuesday. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Hancock police officer John Minichiello spoke about the dangers of drugs and alcohol misuse during a presentation at ConVal High School on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The presentation was followed the next day with additional demonstrations about the impacts of being under the influence. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Hancock police officer John Minichiello spoke about the dangers of drugs and alcohol misuse during a presentation at ConVal High School on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The presentation was followed the next day with additional demonstrations about the impacts of being under the influence. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Hancock Police Chief Andrew Woods speaks to a ConVal High School student who was wearing “fatal vision” goggles on Wednesday. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Hancock Police Chief Andrew Woods speaks to ConVal High School students wearing “fatal vision” goggles on Tuesday, May 16, 2018. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Morgen Luke, a junior at ConVal High School, participates in a simulated field sobriety test during an event on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Cambria Hobbs, a junior at ConVal High School, participates in a simulated field sobriety test during an event on Wednesday. Staff photo by Abby Kessler



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, May 18, 2018

There’s been a lot of hardship in Hancock police officer John Minichiello’s life.

It started when he was young. Neither of his parents had much of an education and the family didn’t have a lot of money. Minichiello and his father didn’t have a good relationship either.

“According to my father I couldn’t do anything right,” Minichiello said during an assembly at ConVal High School Tuesday afternoon.

Although many people in his life have turned to substance misuse as a coping mechanism to life’s inevitable obstacles, Minichiello didn’t go that route.

“Alcohol and drugs are a depressant so if you are depressed, guess what? You’re going to get more depressed,” he said to a group of juniors and seniors who were packed onto the bleachers in the gym. 

He told the group that people start taking drugs or abusing alcohol to deal with a psychological problem, but the psychological pain turns into a physiological problem where the body starts to rely on the substance.

During the presentation, Minichiello used a number of examples from his own life that acted as a cautionary tale from drug and alcohol misuse.

He told the group that his first wife had a drug and alcohol problem. He said he tried to do everything he could to save her, dumping time and resources into her recovery, but nothing worked. Eventually, he decided to stop enabling her. Minichiello was getting ready for work one day and his wife went into the other room and shot herself in the chest. Minichiello served in Vietnam, and her death brought back wartime memories.

He said his nephew was killed by a third-time drunk driver.

At a bereavement meeting, Minichiello met a woman whose husband was killed by a drunk driver.

Minichiello called asked the crowd for volunteers and handed them “Fatal Vision” goggles. He had the group walk a line along the gym first without the goggles, and then again with the devices on. Some were better than others at walking the line, but all seemed affected by the goggles.

One of the students was able to walk the line rather successfully with the goggles on. Hancock Police Chief Andrew Wood said although the young woman’s field sobriety test with the goggles on looked like it was completed well, he said he was able to spot more subtle clues that she was impaired. 

During Minichiello’s talk, he told the crowd that he ended up in another relationship with a woman. The two sold their smaller houses and bought a bigger one together. For a while, the woman was able to hide her alcohol problem, but it eventually became clear that she was abusing it. One day, she was yelling and screaming at two young kids, and Minichiello said he tried to intervene. She called the police on him.

Minichiello said he sat in a motel room after they split. For the first time in many years, he felt at peace.

Now, every time he goes through a hard time, he likes to “get quiet.” 

He moved to New Hampshire to do just that. He had very little money when he arrived in the state. He got a house in a rural area that had no water. He got a dog.

“You know I look back and those were like the best 14 years of my life. What did I do? I got quiet,” he said.

He read, took a course, read books, and learned how to meditate. He traveled to schools across the country for 10 years presenting about the dangers of drugs and alcohol through a program called Teen savers of America, which he started in 1997. He has been working at the Hancock department for a number of years now. 

During the presentation at ConVal, he encouraged students to find other ways to cope with challenges. 

“The only way I got through life sometimes was with my sense of humor, and a Barnes & Noble bookstore,” Minichiello said at one point during the assembly. “Every problem that everybody has in here if you have a problem, which I don’t know how you get through life without having ‘em, somebody had that same problem, wrote a book about it, and it’s in the self-help section of the Barnes & Noble bookstore.”

He encouraged the students to be kind to each other, too.

“Everyone has feelings, everyone has emotions. Try to do the right thing,” he said.

The assembly on Tuesday was followed by a series of other presentations related to the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse on Wednesday for students enrolled in health class. 

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.