Croydon, New Hampshire, police chief Richard Lee walked home undressed after a vote to shut down his department on Tuesday.
In a Wednesday interview at his home, Lee told Valley News he was “caught off guard” by the vote to abolish the Croydon Police Department on Tuesday night. Aside from the “police department” listed under “new business” for the meeting, Lee claimed there was no other indication of what would transpire.
The three-member “Selectboard” unanimously voted to abolish the Croydon police department in favor of relying on the New Hampshire State Police for policing needs. Another proposal to dissolve the police department was defeated by voters in May 2019. In contrast, Lee had previously proposed giving himself a 43 percent raise, which was similarly dismissed by the citizens of Croydon.
Lee said Selectboard Chairman Russell Edwards told him to “immediately” turn over his badges, the keys to his police cruiser, and his uniform, “immediately.” But when Lee began to undress then and there, Edwards told him that he could go home and turn in the uniform later.
But “this is what they demanded and this is what I’m doing,” Lee remembered deciding. Lee left the meeting to walk home in a baseball cap, a t-shirt, briefs, and boots. Fortunately, his wife was there to suspend his public protest in the 26-degree cold by picking him after less than a mile.
“If there’s something I was doing wrong, tell me,” Lee said, claiming not to know why he was removed, despite admitting that the board has had unspecified “issues” with his department in the past. “I can’t get anybody to answer the question.”