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Enfield police chief steps down over alleged assault of minor son

  • Enfield Police Chief Richard Crate speaks with the media following an incident in Enfield, N.H., on July 12, 2011. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck



Valley News
Friday, April 27, 2018

Enfield police Chief Richard Crate stepped down from his job on Friday and is leaving police work in New Hampshire as part of a settlement over allegations that he physically assaulted his minor son.

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office said in a news release Friday that Crate denied the assault took place earlier this year, while he was off duty.

Despite that, state investigators said they had probable cause to charge Crate with simple assault, but explained that it would be difficult to prove in court “based on the affirmative defense available to Mr. Crate of parental justification,” the news release said.

To resolve the case, the attorney general’s office agreed not to bring a charge if Crate retires from his position as police chief in Enfield and agrees not to seek recertification as a police officer in New Hampshire.

Crate, a past president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, also has agreed to undergo counseling and apologize to his son, the release said.

Reached on Friday, Crate, 49, said, “I didn’t do what I have been accused of.”

Under the agreement, he did not admit guilt. Crate declined to talk about what the allegations were, as did the attorney general’s office, other than to reiterate that it was an allegation that Crate physically assaulted his son.

“I have come to the difficult realization that I can’t in good conscience go back to being a police chief and do the job justice. My heart is just not in it anymore,” Crate said. “I have been doing this for 30 years. It is just disheartening to be accused of something and working so hard to serve the public.”

Crate, whose family has long been involved in civic life in Enfield, was placed on paid administrative leave in early March as the case was investigated. Authorities said State Police received a report on Feb. 9 alleging that Crate had assaulted a “minor family member.”

Crate said the last few months have been very trying and he called this “the best resolution all around for a number of different reasons.”

Crate has one son. He is now 14.

Asked how things are going now with his son, Crate declined to comment, adding that he wanted to protect his son’s privacy.

Although the agreement with the attorney general’s office states that Crate is only barred from seeking police work in New Hampshire, Crate said he doesn’t have plans to get a position in a neighboring state either.

He isn’t sure what he will do for work next, he said.

Criminal charges could still be brought if Crate doesn’t abide by the terms of the agreement, the release said.

For that reason and because the case is still technically open, Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward said Friday he couldn’t elaborate on what the allegations are. He did say no weapons were involved.

According to state law, a parent who is responsible for the care of a minor child is justified in using force against the minor “when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent or punish such minor’s misconduct.”

There are limits to what that conduct can entail, Ward said. But it isn’t black and white.

“Reasonably” is the key word, and what is reasonable conduct is left up to a jury or a judge in a case of alleged misconduct, he said.

Crate had served as chief in Enfield since 2005 and joined the department in 1989. He was budgeted to make $94,000 this year.

Enfield Town Manager Ryan Aylesworth said last month that Enfield Detective Sgt. Roy Holland had become acting chief when Crate was placed on leave.

In a telephone interview Friday, Aylesworth said Holland will now become the interim chief while the town moves forward with a search for a new police chief.

Internal and external applications will be welcomed, he said.

“This is very fresh news,” Aylesworth said. “We are still working through the logistics of how that search process will work.”

The Enfield select board next meets on May 7.

“The department has been doing very well under now-interim Chief Holland’s leadership,” Aylesworth said. “He has been keeping the officers’ focus on where it needs to be – public safety and day-to-day operations.”