Mayoral candidate Alderman Patrick Arnold may have been a bit too eager to tie the most recent shooting in the city to his campaign’s attempts to blame rising crime in the city on Mayor Ted Gatsas.  Sources tell Girard at Large that within minutes of the news that there had been a shooting in Manchester’s North End, Arnold was in the lobby of  WMUR-TV requesting an on-camera interview to discuss the incident.  Thinking that a sitting alderman might have inside information on what had taken place, WMUR granted the request only to hear Arnold use the opportunity to  complain about rising crime in the city and accuse Gatsas of not having a plan to combat it.

In an interview with Girard at Large, Arnold admitted that all he knew at the time he went to WMUR was that “there was a shooting near Mayor Gatsas’ house.”   Two days later, during an interview on the The Progress Report, a Manchester Public Television show hosted by Gatsas adversary Bob Backus, and in full possession of the facts, which were that the state police has shot and killed a woman after a chase that started after the victim took off from a traffic stop on Interstate 89 in Bow, Arnold essentially said the shooting was another example of rising crime in the city and complained that the mayor had no plan to fix it.

Arnold justified his actions and comments saying that he regularly offers comments to the media on any number of events that take place and that, in this case, issues of public safety are of great interest to the public.  He said that seeking an interview before the facts were known to address concerns over rising crime and restate his charge that the mayor had no plan to deal with it did not politicize the incident.  He stated that he has routinely faulted the mayor  on the issue and this was no different.

Mayor  Gatsas declined comment on this story.

Arnold’s campaign believes that crime is the number one issue in the city and that Gatsas is vulnerable on it.  Therefore, it has sought to turn concern over crime in the city to his campaign’s advantage.  Just hours before the night the Manchester Police Department hosted a relatively well attended community meeting on the issue, Arnold’s campaign released a plan to combat crime.  In addition to hiring more police, establishing walking patrols and mounted patrols in the downtown and other unspecified neighborhoods, creating a special “home invasion” response team and “using data” to determine where police would be deployed, Arnold blamed the increases in crime on Gatsas’ failure to have a plan to combat it.

In an interview with Girard at Large, Arnold was pressed on the question of  whether or not he’d consulted with Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara in the development of his plan.  In confirming that Arnold did not consult with him before releasing his plan, Mara also said that the department was already using foot and mounted patrols and has, for years, used data to determine how best to deploy resources.  Mara could not recall any discussions Arnold has had with him about crime in the city during his time on the board.

Following the primary, Gatsas called Arnold out for politicizing the issue by trying to scare the city into voting for him, noting that Arnold had done very little if anything on the issue during his time in office.

You can listen to our discussion and commentary on this incident from this morning’s show here.