The Hippo


Apr 23, 2019








Courtesy photo.

Five favorites

Favorite Book: John Adams by David McCullough
Favorite Movie: American Sniper
Favorite Musician: Keb’ Mo’
Favorite Food: Fried clams
Favorite thing about NH: The spirit of the people who live here.

News & Notes Q&A - New police boss
Manchester’s next police chief prepares to take the helm

By Ryan Lessard

  Enoch “Nick” Willard is Manchester’s next chief of police. A native of Peaks Island in Portland, Maine, Willard joined the Manchester Police Department in 1992 after serving as a Sanbornton cop for three years. Before that, he served in the U.S. Air Force for four years. As a lieutenant in Manchester, he was the supervising officer of Michael Briggs and lead investigator in his murder case. In 2011 he was promoted to captain of the detectives division, and he’s been assistant chief since 2013.   

For residents who don’t know you, what’s the first thing you’d like them to know about you?
I’ve been a victim-oriented police officer [during] my career. ... I’ve always believed in serving the victim in the cases I was handling or the people I was interacting with. I often say that … you should treat people the way you’d want your family treated. Even the most dastardly of people should be treated with a level of respect and dignity. … I’ve obtained many confessions from homicide suspects partly because of that. 
What’s the most memorable case you worked as a Manchester detective?
The most memorable case was the [2004] triple homicide of the Doyle family: Tricia Doyle and her two children. Her 4-year-old daughter and her 2-year-old son. Just the gravity of investigating that crime scene and obtaining the confession from the killer, who just happened to be Tricia’s brother. That’s the case that was the most difficult case on every level you can imagine when you use the word “difficult.” … It was extraordinarily rough and it took a toll on the officers, the detectives that were investigating the scene. It took a toll on the officers who responded to find the three of them murdered in the bedroom upstairs. It’s just one of those cases that just never leaves you.

What world view or guiding philosophy will inform your leadership of the state’s largest municipal police department?
You lead by example and you do so with honor and dignity with a clear direction of what your expectations are and what your goals are. Probably the one thing that everyone in the building knows about me is that I will set expectations and I do expect results. Those results aren’t always what I’d like to see out of them, but as long as I get the effort, and people put in the effort … so I’d say leading by example, being the moral compass for your agency. I think those are vital things. 
Manchester has an increasingly diverse population, in terms of race and economic status. How do you hope to avoid the often fraught relationship minority and poor residents have with police in places like Ferguson, Missouri or Baltimore?
First and foremost, you have to have a robust professional standards commitment. So if there are complaints made, the complainant needs to know that it will be taken seriously and it will be investigated thoroughly. I think that’s vital. If the community has no confidence that we are going to investigate our own in times of perceived slight or a complaint then they’re going to lose faith in us. I think we have that here. We have a very robust professional standards commitment. So we’re not afraid to admit our mistakes and I think that’s important. I just did it the other day. I made a mistake where somebody had made a complaint and I thought something different than what the reality was and I called the woman back and said, ‘You are absolutely right and we were wrong. We dropped the ball on this.’ … I also think — and Chief Mara has done this incredibly well — you maintain the contacts within the community. You have the dialogue like we’ve had at the community meetings.
Nearly 50 people died of opioid overdoses in the city last year. What do you think law enforcement’s role in managing the drug crisis should be?
I think we need to continue with our enforcement. I think we need to continue the dialogue with the social service community to help get treatment. I think we need to have a seat at the table when we’re talking to politicians who can actually create funding for some of these programs. We can continue to advocate, just like Chief Mara has been doing. We can work on the enforcement end, but we need help … from the politicians, from the medical professionals, we need help from the social service agencies. … Without it we are just swimming against the tide. 
— Ryan Lessard 

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