Editor’s Note: The following was submitted by Chief Allen Aldenberg explaining how the police department is responding to the recommendations put forth by the Governor’s commission on Law Enforcement, Commuity and Transparancy.
Last fall, as I was sworn-in by Mayor Joyce Craig as Chief of the Manchester Police Department, Governor Chris Sununu issued an executive order requiring dozens of law enforcement reforms. The goal was to improve operational efficiency, quality, transparency and community relations. The expansive order is the result of dozens of recommendations offered by the Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency Commission.
In my initial review, I confirmed that the Manchester Police Department was already meeting many of the recommendations. However, as with any law enforcement agency, there is always room for improvement. I am confident that through our progressive approach we will exceed the recommendations.
I am pleased to report that next month, the Manchester Police Department will be revamping the annual training program in support of the Governor’s executive order and in direct response to the recommendations offered by the Commission.
My vision for the agency aligns with these recommendations. Our department’s long-term success requires engaged leadership, enduring community relationships, transparency, innovation and progressive training.
Our department implemented Body Worn Cameras in 2019 which further highlights our desire and willingness to remain as transparent as possible. The implementation of this program is due in large part to the support of the Board of Mayor and Alderman who saw the value and made it a priority to fund the project, despite the budgetary restraints. Our cameras have proven to be reliable and effective. They are valuable in investigations, as well as excellent training tools.
Moving forward, we have used the Commission’s 48 recommendations as the foundation for our new training approach. Here are some examples:
Increase total mandatory hours of annual police in-service training to 24 Hours:
With the implementation of MPD’s annual “Training Week”, we will offer a minimum of 40 hours per sworn officer, scheduled throughout the calendar year to avoid manpower or service disruptions.
The Commission “Strongly Encourages” (2) hours of annual in-service training on each of the following topics: Implicit Bias and Cultural Responsiveness, Ethics and De-Escalation:
MPD’s “Training Week” is currently scheduled for a four-hour block focused on Cultural Competency Training, which encompasses Cultural Responsiveness and Bias. In addition, the week also includes a four-hour block on de-escalation which our newly-minted Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) instructors will lead. A portion of this instruction is also dedicated specifically to Ethics and Implicit Bias training.
I am proud to report that in total, MPD will provide a total of eight hours of training on Implicit Bias, Cultural Responsiveness, Ethics and De-Escalation, which exceeds the Commission’s recommended six hours.
The commission recommended an increase in scenario-based training, but did not mandate or recommend a specific amount of training hours
MPD’s “Patrol Tactics II” day within the training week dedicates four hours of scenario-based training. There are seven scenarios in total and include de-escalation, active shooter response, armed barricaded subject, officer down rescue, interior suspect search, exterior suspect search and felony motor vehicle stops. All of the scenarios will use “Simunitions”, an advanced, realistic and non-lethal training system for police, which focuses on close-range, high-intensity exchanges.
While two of these scenarios are designed to protect officers and the public through lethal force, the other five scenarios focus on de-escalation, restraint and proper tactical techniques in high-stress situations. Our program will also utilize scenario-based exercises with non-lethal means to include the application of a Taser.
Based on a few shocking police incidents around the country last year, the Governor’s Commission report specifically addresses chokeholds, noting they are now banned except in deadly force situations. The newly formed MPD Defensive Tactics program does not teach chokeholds in any way, a point that needs to be made as clearly as possible.
Lastly, to sustain the best mental and physical health of our officers, we will offer a block of training on officer wellness and sustainability.
We appreciate the guidance offered by the Governor and his Commission. MPD is covering every topic and exceeding the recommended training hours in an interactive classroom setting for our officers. It is my fervent hope this training will provide guidance for other police departments and inspire faith and confidence in the Manchester Police Department. The men and women within the agency strive hard every day to serve the citizens of our great city with the utmost professionalism and they hold true to the ethics of the profession.
Chief Allen Aldenberg heads the police department for the city of Manchester, NH.