Merrimack County Sheriff embarks on education campaign

  • Merrimack County Sherriff David Croft presents the reform his department has started in recent years to the Hopkinton Select Board at their Jan. 31 meeting. —Courtesy

  • David Croft, Democratic candidate for Merrimack County Sheriff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/4/2022 4:12:58 PM
Modified: 2/4/2022 4:11:28 PM

In his first term as Merrimack County Sheriff, David Croft has put an emphasis on keeping a sustained dialogue with local public officials.

He has embarked on a year-long communicative journey, appearing at city council and select board meetings to relay both the day-to-day and reform efforts that have taken place in his department.

His most recent stop came at the Hopkinton Select Board Meeting Monday night. He kicked off the conversation by outlining a common theme he’s picked up from the community and elected officials.

“Something I’ve learned over the past year is how little folks know about what my office has done,” he said. “I took it upon myself in the middle of last year, to try to get out to all of my 25 select boards, and my two city councils, to try to educate them on what the sheriff's office does,” Croft said.

The County’s Sheriff’s Office is in charge of hand-delivering court documents in civil cases, like divorce pleadings and evictions. The office is also in charge of court security as well as prisoner transport to the county courthouse. The office also assists local police departments with criminal investigations when needed.

Since Croft was elected in 2020, the issue of evictions loomed large during the pandemic. At different points, evictions were halted, then allowed to go forward again.   

Croft said his vision for his department is compassion, which includes assisting people facing eviction.

“Sadly, but we have to do evictions every Wednesday,” Croft said. “Prior to me taking over, we would go in, open the door, not literally, but we are kicking these people in the fanny and saying ‘see you later.’ I said no to that. We're going to research the person that we're putting on the street, and we're going to find out if they have any underlying issues that we can help and assist them with when we make them homeless.”

About 2,000 people have remained homeless across New Hampshire since 2010 and many of those who are unsheltered deal with some form of mental illness, according state statistics. In 2020, about 250 of the state’s homeless population lived in Merrimack County.

Croft explained that the sheriff’s office takes time to look into each displaced person’s employment, medical and residential history to get a better idea of how to assist them and make sure they are not left without help.

“I think it's important that law enforcement, especially nowadays, when society is asking for us to change, and rightfully so, we need to adapt to the things that we're dealing with,” Croft said. “Now, we need to be more aware of things, such as substance use disorder, we need to be more aware of people struggling with mental illness. And one way that I've learned to do that is we’ve got to show that we're approachable, and that we're here to listen.”

Croft said he hopes these efforts help reduce the homeless population in the county.

Croft said adding duties without extra cost hasn’t been easy, Croft said.

“We were given a charge this year to come in with zero percent increase on the tax dollar and I’m happy to say that we’ve worked really hard and were successful in doing that,” he added.

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