New Hamphire

Fired by His Town, NH Police Chief Walks Home in Underwear — During Snowstorm

"I sat down in the chair and took off my boots, took off my pants, they said, 'What are you doing,' and I said, 'I'm following your directive'"

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A police chief in New Hampshire, his town's only police officer, walked home in his underwear during a snowstorm Tuesday after he was fired and told to turn in his uniform.

The selectmen in the quaint town of Croydon, population roughly 700, had voted to immediately abolish the one-man police department and turn over emergency coverage to state police. 

"They said, 'We need your cruiser keys immediately, we need your uniform immediately,'" Richard Lee explained. "I sat down in the chair and took off my boots, took off my pants, they said, 'What are you doing,' and I said, 'I'm following your directive.'"

Without his clothes or his keys, he walked out of Town Hall and into a snowstorm, down the road, right past Roxanne Turner's general store.

"I just laughed," she said.

His wife picked him up, according to the Union Leader newspaper.

Lee said reporters have been calling him non-stop since Tuesday.

"I've never been on TV, I don't want to be on TV," Richard Lee said during our interview Thursday. He added that the town's move was "devastating."

Town leaders wouldn't sit down for an on-camera interview but gave us public documents and meeting minutes that call Lee an "ongoing source of increasing discord." 

Some residents, like Turner, agree.

"I don't feel we were getting the right coverage for the money we were paying," she said.

Lee said this isn't the way he saw his 40-year career coming to an end. But the most unexpected support is making this difficult time a little easier.

"There are people I have arrested who are posting, 'Good job, Richard, you were a fair man, you don't deserve this,'" he said. "It means the world to me. It really does."

Lee said he's now looking into whether the board's decision was even legal.

If he thinks he can fight it, he will, he said.

It is not yet known if criminal cases can be followed through without a police chief, according to the Union Leader.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said the town of Croydon had signed a contract with the Newport police department to provide police services. Such an agreement does not exist.

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