New Hampshire Fire, Police Face Off After Prank

A meeting turned heated in Litchfield on Monday night over a prank that his pitted the fire department and police departments against each other.

Dozens of firefighters and members of the community voiced their opinions.

At one point, fire Chief Tom Schofield and police Chief Joseph O'Brion sounded off at each other from across the room and were stopped by members of the select board.

"This whole thing stinks, and you people should not stand for it," Schofield told the crowd.

Two Litchfield police officers, Russell Hartley III and Gary Gott, admitted that they pulled a prank inside the station last weekend.

The officers said they were on patrol when they found a fire station door unlocked.

After check the building for intruders, the officers said that they placed cups and potato chips around a table to make it look like there was a party. They also turned around pictures on the wall, wrote comments about the firefighters on a whiteboard and left a note about the fire chief on a cookie jar.

Firefighters claim the officers went further and spilled food and drink on the floors and carpets.

The attorney general's office investigated and said that there was no that a break in had occurred. It also said that there was no evidence of damage to property. Therefore, no criminal charges would be filed.

The fire department now wants that investigation re-opened.

Both officers were suspended for a few days both will be returning to duty on Tuesday, and firefighters are demanding more punishment.

At the meeting, one firefighter asked, "Would I still be on the Litchfield fire department if I broke into the police department and did the same thing?"

Community members were divided. Some asked the selectmen to further punish or fire the officers. Others said the prank should not jeopardize the officers' careers.

One firefighter asked the police chief why he had not issued an apology. When O'Brion said he would not comment, the firefighters cleared the room and left the meeting.

O'Brion told News 9 that the dispute would not jeopardize public safety and that both departments would work professionally when faced with an emergency.

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