MANCHESTER, NH – Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard defends the arrest of a Hampton Falls teen who was parked in one of the city’s high crime areas with a gun and ammo, allegedly waiting for a friend.
Connor DeLeire, 18, suffered a concussion during the arrest on Oct. 2o according to the NH Union Leader, following an interview with the teen’s father, John DeLeire. He said his son was parked at Union and Merrimack streets “waiting for a friend who was picking up a niece a block away.”
The teen’s father told the Union Leader that answer should have satisfied the question by police as to why his son was parked in that area of the city so far from home, and that his son has a license to carry a concealed weapon.
It was the friend – who owned the vehicle DeLeire was waiting in – who bailed his son out after his arrest, according to the Union Leader.
DeLeire “became combative” with police according to the original press release, who ultimately used pepper spray and a Taser on DeLeire before transporting him to police headquarter.
Willard said Thursday night that the area where DeLeire was parked has been identified as a crime “hot spot” based on past and predictive crime data – there have been 24 recent complaints of prostitution and 10 drug overdoses (in parked cars) in that zone over the past three months [see CrimeMapping.com data above].
Willard defended arresting Officer Derek Cataldo, and said the wording in the press release which said Cataldo determined “Deleire was not in the area for legitimate purposes” was unfortunate and did not adequately describe the interaction between DeLeire and Cataldo from a police perspective, especially given the nature of the high volume of crime in that area.
Willard says officer safety is his “No. 1 priority,” especially at a time when officers are answering an unprecedented volume of calls for service in the midst of a drug epidemic that is fueling criminal activity.
“Given the national discourse toward law enforcement in general, although we haven’t seen it to that level here in Manchester, it’s something that concerns me and I worry about. I think Manchester is different than some of the places we’ve seen around the country, because we have a robust relationship with the community, but it doesn’t make me worry any less for the officers out there doing the job. I do what I can as chief to put additional officers on the street to help minimize what the officers are dealing with,” Willard said during an interview two weeks ago, on his first 100 days as chief.
DeLeire was released on $1,000 personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear in the 9th Circuit Court-Manchester on November 24.
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