Police Chief fields questions about encrypted radio transmission, homelessness, horse patrol and more

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Manchester Police Chief Alan Aldenberg during a Facebook Live Q&A on Feb. 18, 2021. Screenshot.

MANCHESTER, NH – Police transmissions will remain encrypted.  Manchester police are working with legislators to give bail commissioners more authority in setting bail for those charged with a violent crime and for those who are repeat offenders.

And, if asked, the police department’s horses could make a visit to the Hillsborough County Nursing Home in Goffstown in coordination with that town’s police department.

Those were some of the answers Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg provided Thursday afternoon during a live, 30-minute forum on Facebook.

Close to 200 people tuned in, asking a variety of questions.  

Derrick Boumil wanted to know if there was any chance of making the radio transmissions not coded.

“I’ll be completely honest, no,” the chief said.  “There were a lot of reasons why we did it and I agree with the prior administration.  I’m not open to changing it.”  

The transmissions were blocked to the public in 2016 when the department bought a new multimillion-dollar communication system.  At the time, the department said it made the change for officer safety, to protect people’s privacy and because some organizations were monitoring the system.  

Someone wanted to know where the horses are.  Aldenberg said they are still with the department and are housed up on River Road. They haven’t been seen lately because it is winter, he said, and one of the riders is out with an injury.  “You will see them again,” he said.

Alicia Kuykendall asked what could be done about the homeless camping out in the Valley Cemetery.  She said it used to be a great place to visit but now it is unsafe.

Aldenberg said officers, working with the Parks and Recreation personnel, consistently go there to address the homeless issue.  He said a week later, there are five more people camping out there.

“It’s a constant battle,” he said.

The chief was asked if people wearing masks, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, made it more difficult to identify them on surveillance video.   

He said it caused some issues but was not overly detrimental.  He said it is just something officers have to “navigate around” and change investigative methods.

When it comes to solving the problem of panhandlers, Aldenberg said while it may sound insensitive the answer is for people not to give them any money.  He said he was “going out on a limb” but that the majority of the time the money is going to fund someone’s drug habit.

He said it is also a safety issue.  “If you open your window, you don’t know who they are and what they are capable of doing,” he said.

Aldenberg said one of his top priorities for the department is combating violent crime.  The department is changing its investigative methods to try and stay ahead of the criminal element which requires “us to be creative and do so legally.”

Aldenberg hopes to hold more open forums online but the ultimate goal, once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, is to hold them in person because he said that is the way to start building relationships within the community.  

You can view the session below: