for Police Commission
BUZZ SCHERR: WHY I'M RUNNINg
I believe Portsmouth deserves a Police Commission that has the knowledge, experience, and judgment to operate as a genuine oversight body, actively engaged in supporting and improving the Portsmouth Police Department.
One of the many reasons that I so love living in Portsmouth is that there is a Police Commission. As a community, we are committed to civilian oversight of law enforcement. Our Police Commission strengthens our community by ensuring that the public is actively involved in overseeing and supporting our law enforcement.
I am running for the Police Commission because I believe my background and experience in the law and the criminal legal system are uniquely suited to serving Portsmouth as a Commissioner.
My immediate goals for the Commission:
Improve transparency so that Portsmouth’s residents can understand the details of how the Commission oversees the department; how the department operates; and how and why both make the decisions that they do.
Help the Police Department embrace 21st century technology to enhance its ability to protect the public while being respectful of individual civil rights. For example, GPS in cruisers and the use of bodycams are essential. Close and transparent regulation of the use of drones and facial surveillance should be mandated.
Ensure cost-effective and transparent resource allocation, meaning close attention to the policy choices embedded in a budget. For example, substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence consume much of the police’s time - and in turn their resources. I believe there are opportunities to reduce Portsmouth’s reliance on the police to address these issues, or to ensure that there are non-police experts sent out with police on calls related to these issues.
The Portsmouth Police Department is a good department. It has already taken the important step of being accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies
(CALEA). I want to make it a great department in collaboration with the Chief and its officers
I am honest, forthright and community-oriented and will bring my vision, knowledge and
experience to represent Portsmouth’s residents as a member of the Police Commission.
- Albert "Buzz" Scherr
The Portsmouth Police Commission is a powerful civilian oversight body with three elected members.
It makes policy for the police department.
It makes and enforces all the rules necessary for the operation of the department in the public interest.
It appoints personnel and is the final authority in resolving internal and external complaints, consistent with due process.
It may remove police personnel for just cause.
In collaboration with the chief of police, it develops the yearly budget which goes to the City Council for approval.
It is the board of directors for the department and its shareholders are the residents of Portsmouth. It operates as an important and powerful intermediary between the city’s residents and the police department.
What Does The Police Commission Do?
Portsmouth is my home. My wife and I raised our two daughters here, now adults themselves. By training, I am a lawyer and law professor. I’ve worked in and advocated for reform of the New Hampshire criminal justice system for 40 years. I first worked in the trenches of that system for 13 years. Now, teaching and criminal legal reform are my two great passions. I have taught about 40 percent of all the public defenders and prosecutors working in New Hampshire today came through my classroom at UNH School of Law.
I am interested in the Police Commission in part because of its non-partisan nature. I chaired a NH non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization for 6 ½ years. For the last five years, I have worked with Republicans and Democrats in the New Hampshire legislature on a variety of criminal justice reform issues. While a staunch Democrat myself, I have always been adept at working across the aisle and believe the Police Commission should remain apolitical.
Three years ago, I chaired the Portsmouth Police Commission’s bodycam sub-committee. I was the sole vote in favor of bodycams, believing that our police officers need to have a record of any incident from their perspective when, with the prevalence of smartphones today, everyone else has a smartphone.
I have the knowledge, experience and judgment to help make the Police Commission a genuine oversight body, actively engaged in supporting and improving the Portsmouth Police Department.
- Albert "Buzz" Scherr
STARTING POINT FOR
In October, 2020, a group of over 100 Portsmouth residents filed a petition with the Portsmouth Police Commission seeking the adoption of a number of initiatives in light of efforts for police reform around the country. The group was led by three individuals, Stephanie Hausman, Marta Hurgin and Lisa Wolford, each whom had extensive experience working in the criminal legal system.
The Police Commission and the Police Department have been working collaboratively with Ms. Hausman, Ms. Hurgin & Ms. Wolford on these initiatives for the last year.
These initiatives represent an excellent starting point for police reform in Portsmouth. I am in whole-hearted support of these initiatives and would work hard, if elected, to continue to advocate for their implementation.
Read the letter: