A New Hampshire police chief may have taken the news he was being stripped of his duties a little too literally.
Richard Lee, who has served as the top — and solo — cop in the small town of Croydon for 20 years — removed his entire uniform and walked out in a snowstorm, nearly naked, after the town’s three-member selectboard voted to abolish the department Tuesday night.
Policing in Croydon, home to just over 700 residents, will now be completely handled by the New Hampshire State Police, the board voted.
Lee was ordered to immediately turn in the key to his cruiser, his guns and uniform — so he walked into an office he shared with town officials and stripped down right then and there in front of board chairman Russell Edwards.
“I gave them my uniform shirt. I gave them my turtleneck, I gave them my ballistic vest,” he said. “I sat down in the chair, took off my boots, took off my pants, put those in the chair, and put my boots back on, and walked out the door.”
Edwards told Lee as he undressed that he could turn in his uniform another day, but he declined.
“This is what they demanded and this is what I’m doing,” Lee told the Valley News.
He said he was afraid of being arrested if he did otherwise.
Lee walked a little less than a mile — wearing only briefs, a T-shirt, a gray baseball cap and another shirt — in 26-degree temperatures until his wife picked him up, he told the outlet.
In a Wednesday statement obtained by the paper, Edwards said the dissolution of the department “was an action based upon value for the cost of the department.” Lee told the publication he made about $30,500 a year.
The former police chief — who had a part-time role but had been working full-time hours in recent weeks on assault, criminal mischief and criminal trespassing cases — said he is meeting with a lawyer to determine whether he has grounds to sue.
“If there’s something I was doing wrong, tell me,” he told the Valley News. “I can’t get anybody to answer the question.”
With Post wires
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