BRENTWOOD — A major drug bust. A child porn investigation. A fugitive from justice involving a three-town pursuit.
It's been a busy spring for Chief Ellen Arcieri and her team at the Brentwood Police Department. While short on staff, Arcieri said they met a number of challenges in April and May.
Arcieri gave selectmen a department update during their last meeting, where officers were commended by their boss and the board.
"Our department has seen a period of transition; her team has risen to the challenge and the results are proof to all their hard work and dedication to our community," said Selectmen Chair Bob Mantegari.
In addition to routine traffic stops, small cases and training, Arcieri's officers arrested a man and two others for possession of a narcotic drug with intent to distribute (fentanyl) in conjunction with the Rockingham County Drug Task Force.
Arcieri said officers also joined with Epping and Kingston in the pursuit of a woman alleged to have shoplifted from Ulta Beauty in Epping. The woman, Yolanda Figueroa, 42, of Lawrence, Mass., led police on a 100 mph chase, until she lost control of her vehicle, which rolled and landed on its roof in the brush. She was found in a swampy area by Brentwood's K-9 dog Dax, arrested and charged with reckless conduct, misdemeanor theft by unauthorized taking, disobeying an officer, driving after suspension, reckless operation and receiving stolen property.
Police also investigated a child pornography case which has since been turned over to federal prosecution.
In addition, officers also dealt with several domestic violence cases and found shelter for a homeless woman.
Arcieri said the department also placed first in the novice criminal protection division and first overall in the novice category in the United States Police Canine Association Region 4 Trials.
Arcieri said the department is budgeted for six full-time officers, but currently has four. While she just hired an officer and has another hire pending, it will take up to a year before the new hires are road-ready, she pointed out. She expects to be fully-staffed by December.
But her current staff, including part-timers and Administrative Assistant Christine Belanger, has risen to the challenges of summer on the Seacoast.
"We have had 24-7 coverage," Arcieri said. "Our primary focus is to cover the town as best we can and provide services with quality. It takes a lot of hours to do it right."
"Doing it right" means not only dealing with Brentwood-specific cases, but with the transient traffic brought on by Route 125. "Route 125," she said, "throws a wrench into it."
And while a larger town or a state agency would have more specialization, "In a small town, you do it all."
Mantegari praised Arcieri's efforts to grow the department with additional training and advancement opportunities.
"She is providing the department with the necessary blueprint for success for many years down the road," he said.