Working together to make us safer

The advantages of rural living in southwestern New Hampshire are numerous, and yet we know there are challenges, too, especially for those on the front lines of emergency services tasked with keeping the peace.

Monadnock Region Law Enforcement Program, headed by Peterborough Police Sgt. Rick Nelson, is taking a regional approach to the job of law enforcement, leveraging the resources of its members as well as donations to pay for specialized equipment and training.

Member police departments, which include Peterborough, Greenfield, Antrim and New Ipswich, recently gathered in Antrim for a two-day training on identifying the signs of methamphetamine labs.

It’s an issue the N.H. Office of the Attorney General is keenly aware of and is investigating across the state. Just this past weekend in Manchester, crews responding to a fire uncovered what was believed to have been a meth lab inside an apartment. While there’s no concrete evidence that meth manufacturing is happening here in the Monadnock region, the issue is of grave enough concern that law enforcement is working to get out ahead of a problem.

The law enforcement group is also going after training to help officers deal with escalating cases of cybercrime, an arena residents are more and more looking to police for redress. They’ve linked up with the National White Collar Crime Center in Rhode Island as well as the N.H. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Making these valuable connections requires time, leadership, and a proactive approach. Officers participating in the Monadnock Law Enforcement Program are benefiting in countless ways, and so are their communities.

The advantages of police officers from different departments working together came through loud and clear on Oct. 13, when Peterborough police got a call about a man threatening another with a gun at a residence in Sharon. Police called in the regional Special Reaction Team — made up of officers from several area towns — to assist Peterborough, Jaffrey and Antrim officers. The incident ended peacefully after a three-hour standoff with the suspect, who eventually surrendered.

As we look to the future, regionalization may more and more become a necessity, perhaps the key to enabling rural areas to keep up with changing technologies and ever-increasing costs. Regionalization may not come in the form of merged departments in every case, but rather greater cooperation and improved communication.

We applaud Nelson for his forward-looking vision. Since establishing the Monadnock Region Law Enforcement Program in 2012, he’s obtained grant money for cell phones, laptops and forensic computer equipment that will allow the group to better work with each other as well as the Internet Crimes Task Force. He’s also obtained grant money from the Welsh Family Foundation and New Hampshire Ball Bearings for training. He’s also hoping other departments will join the program.

With the know-how and experience of officers working together, the region is a safer place.

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