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Nicholas J.

Mercauto
17 Lamplighters Park
North Conway, NH 03860
July 29th, 2015
Earl Sires
Conway Town Manager
1634 East Main Street
Center Conway, NH 03813

Dear Mr. Sires,


I write to you today regarding the town of Conways policy to have the police department call private
citizens regarding overdue library books. First, I intend to outline why I strongly disagree with this policy;
second, I will copy an e-mail I received from Chief of Police Wagner (along with State Representative
Frank McCarthys thoughts on Chief Wagners response); and finally, I will state my intentions and
expectations relating to this matter.
First, a very quick history: My wife received a voicemail on July 7th of this year from Officer Hill of the
Conway police department regarding an overdue library item. This information is not in doubt, as it was
confirmed to me by Chief Wagner that the police did in fact call, and my wife does indeed have an
overdue library book. This is not the issue; the book was accidentally damaged and we intend to
reimburse the library for this item. What I take issue with here is the role of the police.
I find this offensive and asinine on multiple levels. Is this really the best use of police time? What about
the staff at the library that the taxpayers already fund? Although Conway is no crime infested
metropolis, we have problems like anywhere, and I can't stand hearing about police staffing and
resource issues when some of their time is dedicated to calling the residents of Conway to remind them
about their past due library items. We are plagued by an ever growing opiate addiction problem, and
quite frankly, in my humble opinion, even five minutes of police time dedicated to anything unnecessary
is a giant spit in the eyes to anyone affected by this issue, whether it be the addicted person, their family
and/or the community at large, and likely laughable to the criminal dealers perpetuating this epidemic.
In addition, it is quite clear that this decision was made to bring an intimidation factor into play, since
receiving a phone call from the police, even for a minor reason, can be jarring to most people. If not,
why not have any other town department make the calls, like the town treasurer/collector perhaps?
Just as an aside, the Town of Madison doesnt even charge for overdue/lost items, let alone have their
police call the patrons the reason for this discrepancy? I intend to outline below how Chief Wagners
response that the police are simply acting in their capacity as law enforcement officers upholding state
law to be misconstrued and misunderstood, if not perhaps in direct contravention of the law as it is
written.

Below, please find an e-mail from Conway Chief of Police Wagner to myself in response to my concerns.
Below that, find State Representative Frank McCarthys e-mail pertaining to Chief Wagners response. I
include these here not only as a matter of record, but because I believe that Representative McCarthy
makes some very valid points that I wholeheartedly agree with.

Chief Wagners e-mail:

Mr. Mercauto,
I can certainly understand your frustration over being called by the Conway Police Department for an
overdue library book. I'm sure the mere fact that a person is being called by a police officer is probably
somewhat concerning just on face value. Unfortunately, keeping library books past the due date is a
violation level criminal offense, punishable with a fine up to $1,000.00, as outlined by RSA 202-A:25. I
have attached the RSA for your review.
So, the answers to your questions are yes, a call was initiated by a Conway Police Officer and was
authorized to do so by New Hampshire statute. If there is anything else I can help you with please feel
free to call at the number listed below.
Ed
Edward K. Wagner
Chief Of Police
Conway, NH Police Department
PO Box 538
35 East Conway Rd
Center Conway, NH 03813
603-356-5715
603-356-8837 (f)
ewagner@conwaypd.com

Representative McCarthys e-mail:

Dear Nicholas
I will get right to the gist of the matter.
I refer to RSA 202A-25:
In order for a violation to have been committed, certain elements of the law must first be
satisfied. A telephone call does not satisfy the requirements of the law...No matter by whom it is
made.

Relative to written notice-to-return the property...As used In law, the word MAY symbolizes that
the action is not mandatory. If the notice-of-return letter was required, the law would read Shall,
rather than MAY. Meaning the action to send written notice is entirely the decision of the Library
Custodian...Or, the custodian may designate an individual to deliver the letter. Nowhere in the
RSA does it mention, or even hint at, the use of a telephone call, much less legalize its use.

The notice must, in accordance with the law, contain a copy of RSA 202A-25. Without the
inclusion of that information, even the letter is worthless. Therefore, I believe a telephone call
made by a member of the local police department is not only in bad taste but not in accordance
with state law...Making it unenforceable, since the related RSA, similar to the Miranda warning
right, was not legally adhered to. I believe the same would hold true even if the RSA were read
over the telephone. The law requires it to be included within the letter.

An individual has 15 days after receipt of a legal and properly written notice-of-return, to
actually return the property. I have found nothing in the law allowing a telephone call to legally
be substituted for a written notice as prescribed and required by RSA 202A-25.

I also believe, for the Police Department to cite RSA202A-25 as their authority to make telephone
calls that are contrary to the very same RSA quoted, is somewhat difficult for me to fathom.

I wonder??? Could they extradite such a dangerous criminal based on such a phone call?

Finally, with all the problems relative to the rise in drug use etc., could they not find a better use
for their time than to upset citizens with a threatening telephone call relative to an overdue
library book?
I am not a lawyer nor a police officer. However, I do comprehend law as it is written and I find
absolutely no justification for such actions by the Conway Police Department.
Frank

To conclude, I welcome anyone who receives this letter to contact me, whether it be in writing, by
phone or in person, with their thoughts. Specifically, I would appreciate knowing the history on this
decision when was it made, why and on whose authority. Also, if I am disagreed with, Id love to hear
as to why; if not, Id like to know what can be done to de-commission the Conway police department as
a collection agent for the Conway Public Library.

Very Truly Yours,

Nicholas J. Mercauto

Cc: Sires, Earl; Weathers, David; Carey-Seavey, Mary; Porter, Steven; Colbath, John; Thibodeau, Carl;
Gilligan, Lilli; Hounsell, Mark; Paige, David; Marvel, Bill; Fox-Phillips, Linda; Cross, Debbie; Dolan, Donna;
Philbrick, Lucy; Editor, Conway Daily Sun; Editor, Manchester Union Leader; Editor, Concord Monitor