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July 29, 2009
Police chief arrested on DWI charge
BRADFORD, Vermont (STPNS) -- HAVERHILL–Haverhill Police Chief Jeffrey Williams was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and disobeying a police officer, after he was stopped by local police on July 24 on Swiftwater Road in Woodsville.
As a result of the charges, Haverhill Town Manager Glenn English appointed Sergeant Cecil Smith as acting chief of the Haverhill Police Department on Saturday.
Williams, 46, of North Haverhill, was initially spotted by a Haverhill police officer, according to a news release from the New Hampshire State Police, the agency currently in charge of the investigation.
English said Smith spotted a vehicle speeding on Route 10 north near the intersection with Route 135 at about 11:15 p.m. on Friday night and immediately gave pursuit with blue lights. The vehicle turned left onto Route 135, and then right on to Melody Lane, a small connector road between Route 10 and Route 135. The pursuit continued across Route 10 and onto Swiftwater Road where the vehicle eventually stopped near the Bath town line.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Jeff Williams by Smith, according to English, who added the vehicle Williams was driving was not his own.
According to the state police news release, the vehicle pursued by the Haverhill Police attempted to flee the officer and the driver, identified as Williams, was taken into custody and charged with disobeying a police officer.
Realizing the potential “conflict of interest” between the Haverhill Police and its chief, the officer called New Hampshire State Police for assistance in the investigation, the news release said.
NH State Trooper First Class Seth Cooper, stationed with the Troop F barracks in Twin Mountain, responded and subsequently arrested Williams on the charge of driving while intoxicated. Williams is scheduled to appear in Haverhill District Court on Sept. 14.
Calls to Troop F for further information were referred to State Police Capt. Mark Myrdek, the commander of NHSP Investigative Services division who was out of the office at press time. No other officers were authorized to speak about the case.
Williams has an unpublished telephone numbers and attempts to reach him were not successful. It is not known if Williams has retained an attorney.
Williams has been on medical leave from the department since he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on April 2. Williams suffered facial injuries, several broken bones and was airlifted by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon after his Harley-Davidson collided with a pickup truck at the intersection of Route 10 and Forest Street in Woodsville. He has endured several surgeries and nearly daily physical therapy sessions during his recovery. Alcohol was not a factor in that crash.
English said Williams will remain on medical leave, as he has since the April 2 accident, pending the result of an “administrative investigation” into the allegations and charges that he is currently conducting. The investigation may result in administrative actions, but English declined to specify what those actions might be.
“I don’t want to prejudice the case in anyway,” English said. “All options are under consideration under the advice of an attorney.”
English pointed out there are two charges against Williams, the charge of disobeying a police officer, which is a Class A misdemeanor, filed by the Haverhill Police Department, and the charge of DWI which was filed by the New Hampshire State Police which is a Class B misdemeanor.
“I support Sgt. Smith on that charge,” English said. “The Haverhill Police Department reserves the right to pursue that charge.”
In Williams’ absence, the department has been managed by the department’s three remaining supervisors, Sgt. Smith, Corporal Wallace Trott and Corporal Byron Charles and English said he anticipates the department will continue to operate under their direction for the immediate future.
Williams has been with the Haverhill department for most of his 15 years in law enforcement, taking over as chief in 2001 when Chief Edward Savoy retired. In 2008, Williams received an annual salary of $60,590 for his service to the community, according to the 2008 Haverhill annual Town Report issued earlier this year.
On June 8, Williams made his first public appearance since the accident at a selectboard meeting where one of his police officers was honored for helping save a life of a North Haverhill resident. On July 4, Williams lead the annual Independence Day parade through Woodsville in a Haverhill police cruiser.
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