Two additional Salem, New Hampshire police officers are now on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.
Back in November, the attorney general’s office launched an investigation into police practices following an outside audit.
That report outlined a trend of mismanaged internal investigations and highlighted a retaliatory culture inside the department.
In January, Deputy Police Chief Robert Morin was put on paid leave because he was named in the Attorney General’s probe. Now, a month later, the Attorney General has named Capt. Michael Wagner and Sgt. Michael Verocchi as part of that same criminal investigation.
The Attorney General’s Office refused to comment about exactly what the officers may’ve done wrong, saying only that this is an open and active investigation.
“It’s frustrating,” Capt. Joel Dolan said in an interview on Monday. “We are trying to be as transparent in this as possible, but the information we have, and the information that can go out, is very limited.”
Community members are shocked to hear that three of their police officers are now under criminal investigation.
“It’s a shame, but it’s also very surprising,” said longtime Salem resident Gary Marino. “I’ve been here 44 years and they’ve always been fantastic.”
It really hurts because there are some real good police officers there,” Bob Thistle, another Salem resident, said.
Capt. Dolan is encouraged by the community support, as he and the rest of the 60 full-time officers work hard to maintain the department’s reputation.
“It’s a black eye, yes, but it’s also a time for us to shine and show how good the department really is,” Dolan said.
Dolan is making it clear that Morin, Wagner and Verocchi have not been charged or convicted.
He says they are on paid administrative leave as part of department protocol during an investigation.