Bristol select board mum on police chief’s administrative leave

Monitor staff
Published: 9/7/2017 11:49:51 PM

The Bristol select board discussed downtown smoking zones, liquor licenses and trash dumpsters as part of their public meeting agenda Thursday night – but did not once touch on the placement of town police Chief Michael Lewis on indefinite administrative leave, which happened just two days prior.

When the incident came up during public comments, selectman Rick Alpers said that Lewis is still the town’s police chief, and he is being paid. As for how long he will be away and why, Alpers said, “We have no time frame, and we aren’t releasing any of the reasons at this time.”

Lewis was placed on leave Tuesday, but officials have yet to release any details. In a written statement Wednesday, Town Administrator Nicholas Coates – who was present at the meeting – said Lewis would be unavailable as chief from that point on and that Lt. Kris Bean would serve as the department’s “primary point of contact” in his absence. He did not disclose further information.

“The Town takes very seriously its obligation to protect the privacy rights of our employees, and as a result the Select Board and I will not be commenting further,” Coates wrote.

According an article in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Coates also sent out an email to town employees, asking those with information not to speak of the incident.

“To ensure that all employees – past or present – have their privacy rights protected, please refrain from commenting on any personnel information that you may have heard with other Town employees or individuals,” Coates wrote. “We appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.”

Lewis has served as Bristol’s police chief since 2010 – and he’s been in the news before. When he was a police officer in the town in 2006, charges were brought against him by residents who said he and two other officers violated their civil rights by using excessive force while making an arrest and conducting a search of their apartment. In 2012, Lewis made an arrest after he said two masked men holding bags of locks confronted him while he was leaving a hockey rink.

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