Police chief on paid leave after ‘Women for Trump’ group visits HQ

Barnstead, New Hampshire police Chief Paul Poirier is on paid leave after the Barnstead Board of Selectmen decided to sideline him while they conduct an investigation regarding some visitors he had at the Barnstead police station in July 2020.

His crime? They’re not exactly saying it was because of the visitors of Women for Trump dropping in to say hello, but that implication seems evident since the move was made after such an occasion.

Per the Barnstead PD Facebook page, the cadre of Women for Trump included “Lara Trump, 2020 Senior Advisor to President Trump, Pam Bondi, National Co-Chair of Woman for Trump and former Florida Attorney General/Criminal Prosecutor, Katrina Pierson, Trump Communication Consultant and Advisor, as well as, Mercedes Schlapp, Trump Senior Advisor For Strategic Communications.”

Chief Poirier greeted and corresponded with the group as he would (should) any visitors to the tax-payer funded police department: with acceptance, listening ears, cordial conversation, and mutual gratitude since the group emphasized honoring cops. Yet it seems with the whiff of air, there may be a loom of small town politics at play.

According to the Laconia Daily Sun, the Women for Trump contingent showed up at Barnstead Police HQ to extend their gratitude to the law enforcement officers. That is what it took for local governance to get uncomfortable and suspend Chief Poirier. Per the Town of Barnstead website,  the following brief, watered-down bulletin was disseminated to Barnstead residents:

The Board of Selectmen at an Emergency meeting held on Sunday, August 15, 2020 were given
information regarding certain actions and conduct by the Barnstead Police Chief.

The decision was made by the majority present at the meeting to put the Barnstead Police Chief on Paid
Administrative leave pending an impartial investigation performed by an independent agency.

While it may appear this a direct result of the Women For Trump event held on July 23rd, there was
additional information provided that the majority of the board felt warranted further review. The
actions taken by the board protects our town in addition to the Chief of Police. We ask for your patience
while the investigation is ongoing. As this is a personnel issue no further information will be released or
discussed to protect the parties involved.

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That sounds suspenseful!

The local media offered a morsel to consider: “At its [Board of Selectmen] July 28 meeting, Poirier was criticized for using city time and resources without consulting the board for a Trump campaign event.”

Thereafter the Trump group’s visit, local leaders decided to pull strings. Per the Laconia Daily Sun, “Lori Mahar, chair of the Board of Selectmen, said at its July 28 meeting that she felt there should be disciplinary action against the police chief. There are provisions in state law prohibiting public resources from being used for partisan campaign events.” Did that actually happen? Or was this simply an innocuous visit like anyone else would ordinarily make to thank the cops?

Seems a permission slip may have been necessitated by Selectmen.

For his part, Chief Poirier denied breaking any laws and extended his gratitude to the Trump group for stopping by to show appreciation for his police force.

Chief Poirier qualified why he didn’t ponder anything other than stewarding over a visit, explaining why he didn’t seek permission from the Board of Selectmen: “I don’t want picketers and rioters. I take responsibility. I did nothing wrong.” We shall see…

No matter how this turns out, the Barnstead Police Department posted an array of photos depicting the visit.

This piece was written by Stephen Owsinski on August 28, 2020. It originally appeared in DrewBerquist.com and is used by permission.

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeZette.

meet the author

Stephen Owsinski is a LifeZette contributing editor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is also a columnist for the National Police Association.

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