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They Told Him to Turn In His Uniform. He Took Them Literally

Police chief stripped of duties strips down to boots, hat, and skivvies, heads into storm
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2020 7:16 AM CST
Updated Feb 23, 2020 10:30 AM CST

(Newser) – A New Hampshire town's board of selectmen voted this week to shut down its one-man police department—and the police chief reacted to the news by stripping down to his skivvies and walking out into a snowstorm. Per CNN, Croydon's three-person board unanimously decided Tuesday to give Richard Lee, who'd served as police chief since 2000, his walking papers, opting instead to pay state police to cover the town's policing needs. Lee says they told him after the vote he'd need to turn in his badge and uniform immediately, and he took the word "immediately" literally. "I gave them my uniform shirt," he recounts, per the AP. "I gave them my turtleneck, I gave them my ballistic vest. ... I ... took off my boots, took off my pants, put those in the chair ... put my boots back on, and walked out the door." He walked almost a mile in just boots, hat, and undies before his wife picked him up.

The selectboard's chair, Russell Edwards, tells WPTZ the decision was a "well thought out" one made for economic reasons. But Lee tells the Valley News he was blindsided by the vote, noting the meeting's agenda simply listed "police department" as an item to discuss. The Union Leader notes Lee was also the town's sole prosecutor, and that it's not clear how criminal cases on the docket will now go forward. Lee, who says he's consulting with an attorney on his options, adds the board tried to oust him last year as well, but citizens rallied to keep him in his job. Even if that happens again, he's now washing his hands of a career in law enforcement. Meanwhile, local Rick Sampson is baffled as to how it's gotten to this point. "What kind of a town lets their chief of police walk out in a snowstorm in his underwear?" he says, per the Union Leader. (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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