Veteran Keene police officer demoted from lieutenant to sergeant

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Jun. 21—A longtime Keene police officer was demoted in rank last month, according to city officials.

Effective May 15, Jason Short was demoted from his lieutenant position as commander of the Keene Police Department's bureau of criminal investigations to a sergeant position as police prosecutor, Police Chief Steven Russo said in an email earlier this month.

Russo did not respond to emailed questions about what prompted this. City Manager Elizabeth Dragon confirmed Short's demotion, but, citing confidential personnel information, declined to comment on the reason for it. Short did not return a phone request for comment left on his department voicemail last week.

According to Russo, Short has been with the Keene Police Department for more than 23 years and was promoted to lieutenant on Aug. 16, 2015. Lieutenants command bureaus within the department or command a shift, Russo said, whereas sergeants are a support position on the staff or are first-line supervisors.

The police prosecutor assists in the department's prosecutorial efforts, working closely with the county attorney's office, Russo said. Sergeants oversee officers and report to lieutenants, who are responsible for discipline and performance of subordinates, according to job descriptions for those ranks. Lieutenants report to captains, who head the department's field operations and administrative services and report to the chief of police.

After starting his career with the Keene Police Department in 1998, Short served as a patrol officer, sergeant and police prosecutor before becoming lieutenant in 2015, according to reporting by The Sentinel at the time of his promotion.

Last winter, Short suggested in social media posts that people disobey the city's re-instituted indoor mask mandate, which Keene police were responsible for enforcing. At the time, Russo said he was aware of Short's social media comments, but that they did not violate department policy because they were not made while on duty nor to represent the views of the department or city.

As of late January, the Keene Police Department had not penalized any person or business for noncompliance with the mandate, which was lifted in mid-February, but rather had officers educate the public on the ordinance, according to previous reporting by The Sentinel.

Dragon last week did not respond to an emailed question about who is now the commander of the bureau of criminal investigations. Russo could not be reached by phone for questions Tuesday morning.

The Sentinel has submitted a right-to-know request seeking documentation from the city related to Short's demotion.

Ryan Spencer can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1412, or Follow him on Twitter at @rspencerKS