Lebanon Police Chief Addresses Immigration, Opioid Concerns

May 31, 2017

Lebanon Police Chief Richard Mello addresses public questions at a forum in West Lebanon on the evening of May 31, 2017.
Credit Britta Greene / NHPR

About 50 people showed up for a public forum with the Lebanon Police Chief Richard Mello in West Lebanon Tuesday night.

Since the November election, residents have been approaching the mayor and city councilors with questions around immigration enforcement by local law enforcement, according to Councilor Karen Liot Hill. “A lot of people seem to be really concerned about what might happen -- not necessarily what was happening, but what might happen in the future,” she said.

The forum aimed to address some of those concerns. 

Little has changed in terms of the daily work of Lebanon police officers since President Donald Trump took office, Chief Mello said, and local officers will not be deputized to enforce federal immigration law. The department is in the process of drafting a new policy codifying how officers deal with immigration issues, but that policy is not tied to changes in leadership or priorities in Washington, he said. 

Mello also addressed other issues, including the opioid crisis. He says the rise of powerful synthetic opioids like fentynal and carfentanil is posing risks even for the department’s drug-sniffing dogs. The department is in the process of securing supplies of the anti-overdose drug Narcan specifically targeted at preventing deaths in its canine unit.