Three months ago, the Legislature signed off on a bill to expand an anti-drug law enforcement program known as Granite Hammer.
On Wednesday, state officials announced plans to distribute more than a million dollars in grant money to municipalities across New Hampshire.
In all, 10 communities are on track to receive money through the expanded Granite Hammer program — that includes Franklin, Laconia, Keene, Concord, Nashua and Manchester, where a version of the drug enforcement initiative has already been in place for about a year.
Hillsborough, Rockingham, Cheshire, Carroll and Sullivan Counties are also expected to receive Granite Hammer money.
In total, about $1.5 million will be distributed through the program, with part of the money also going to help reduce the backlog of drug cases at the state crime lab.
(Scroll down for a full breakdown of where the money is heading.)
Granite Hammer has been billed as a way to target drug dealers — and not just those dealing on a large scale. So says John Delena, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who’s been working with Manchester on its Granite Hammer program.
“Anybody and everybody," Delena said, when asked who the program would be going after. "Anybody that’s peddling in death, anybody that’s selling heroin, fentanyl or opioids, we are going to target.”
New Hampshire Department of Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes said the new grants will rein in drug dealing at a local level by using data to target drug hot spots — more specifically, the money will go toward undercover operations, traffic enforcement and more data sharing between departments.
“We believe this grant program will improve coordination, communication and collaboration, resulting in a more efficient and effective law enforcement response," Barthelmes said.
Some state Republicans criticized Governor Maggie Hassan over the fact that it took three months to begin handing out the grant money and suggesting the timing was politically motivated.
Hassan's office says it took time to develop an application process for the grants, and then solicit and evaluate those applications, before determining how to distribute the money.
"The Department of Safety wrote rules, created an application and grant review committee in partnership with the Chiefs of Police," said William Hinkle, Hassan's communications director. "The Department then worked in partnership with local law enforcement agencies to identify and develop effective law enforcement initiatives for the grant funding and complete the application process in less than half the same time it took the legislature to simply pass the legislation that the Governor proposed last year."
Hassan said every agency that applied for Granite Hammer funding was awarded money through the program. A full breakdown of the grants can be found below.