Nov 20, 2015 2:44 PM

Canterbury residents petition to disband police department

CANTERBURY — A group of residents, including a former police chief, are advocating to disband the town's police department as the current chief fights charges of sexual assault that date back to a different position.

According to the Union Leader, selectmen, at their next meeting, will discuss a petition that has between 70 and 80 signatures.

Retired Police Chief Harry Heath, who was chief between 1972 and 1995, is among the petitioners.

Heath, now 82, said the department is getting the equivalent of $1,000 a day for its work. In his time as chief, Heath said he would “get right back to people” when they called the police department. Now, he said, when he calls police, he often gets a recording at the department office and doesn’t get called back for long periods, sometimes hours.

“I would just as soon see the State Police covering the town,” he said.

The town’s current police chief, John Laroche, is on administrative leave as he fights charges of sexual assault brought against him from alleged incidents between Jan. 1, 1999 and Aug. 4, 2000 when he was a Boscawen officer.

In Laroche’s place, Sgt. Ernie Beaulieu Jr. is in charge of the police department.

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