James Valiquet for Merrimack County Sheriff 2020

Dear Jim:

While looking something up on the Internet recently, I noticed that you are a candidate for Merrimack County Sheriff. Having known you both professionally and personally for several decades, I decided to write to you and wish you the best of luck in this effort.

The office of Sheriff, as you probably know, is the oldest non-military law enforcement position in the world, having originated in Great Britain over a thousand years ago. The term, Sheriff springs from “Shire Reeve”, the Shire being the early Saxon equivalent of a County, and the Reeve being the individual principally responsible for enforcing the law in that County.

What makes the Sheriff’s Office unique today is that it has civil as well as criminal duties, is charged with keeping the peace in courts and serving civil papers as well as investigating crimes, and perhaps most importantly, the Sheriff is directly elected by the people of the county. If it should ever happen that a municipal or statewide law enforcement agency becomes incompetent or corrupt, the citizens can turn to the Sheriff, and if the Sheriff is not responsive, the voters have the unique opportunity at the ballot box to replace him or her every 2 years. 

Many years ago when I was Police Chief in my hometown of Belmont and the youngest Chief in the state, I appeared before the State Legislature and successfully opposed an effort by the Attorney General to do away with the Office of Sheriff. I recognized even then how important it was to have an elected Sheriff as a check and balance within the law enforcement profession.

My first awareness of you came when I was Director of the Police Standards and Training Council and you were a Detective for the Exeter Police Department. You attended several advanced in-service training sessions and I was impressed by your desire for knowledge and willingness to recognize areas where you wanted to improve your skills. 

Later when your career brought you to the Newbury Police Department as Chief, it was the good fortune of several persons working at the Town Hall across from the Police Station one fall day in 1993, that you were in your office completing a report when a deranged gunman entered the Town Hall and began shooting, killing two female employees and wounding two others. Had you not been close by and unhesitatingly rushed the 50 or so yards between the two buildings without waiting for backup, there is no doubt in my mind that several additional lives would have been lost. Instead, when the shooter saw you approaching, he turned the weapon on himself and committed suicide.

Throughout your career I have observed many instances where you have gone above and beyond your sworn duties to contribute to the people of your communities (Exeter, Newbury, and now Bradford) and to all of New Hampshire law enforcement as well, with leadership roles as head of the Central New Hampshire SWAT unit, a term as President of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, and as a founder of the Police, Fire and EMS charitable foundation. I have also noticed that in every community where you have worked, you have established a positive relationship with the fire department and emergency medical teams, working in unison to help save lives and property. On top of that, you are a devoted husband and father, espousing family values and moderation in your personal life.

Jim, I wish you the best of luck in your quest for this additional challenge in your career. 

Very truly yours,

Earl Sweeney

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NH Primary Election: Tuesday, September 8th, 2020