N.H. firefighters hot over police ploy


Editor's Note: Police in Newport, N.H recently apprehended a suspect by disguising themselves as firefighters, setting off a fire alarm in the building where he was holed up, and nabbing the guy when he opened his door.

A key to effective policing is creativity and this operation—conducted in collaboration between Newport Police Chief David Hoyt and Fire Chief Wayne Conroy—seems to be an outstanding example of some very clever thinking. A known felon with a violent history points a shotgun at a lone officer who had responded to a noise complaint; officer leaves to begin planning suspect’s arrest; suspect is believed to be in the apartment with a one-year-old and a woman; Chief Hoyt and Chief Conroy agree on the use of fire gear; police conduct the operation and arrest the suspect with no shots fired, nobody hurt. Nice job…right?

Well, not in everyone’s eyes. Some firefighters are concerned that the Trojan horse tactic damaged their image as “rescuers.” The president of Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire expressed concern that this approach could endanger firefighters and paramedics because “criminals no longer realize who’s there to help and who’s there to apprehend.”

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