Robert Merner

Chief of Police

Welcome to Portsmouth! I began my tenure as Portsmouth Chief of Police in June, 2017; I bring 32 years of policing experience with me after serving for over 28 years in the Boston Police Department retiring as a Superintendant and just over two years in the Seattle Police Department as an Assistant Chief.

I’m happy to bring many years of policing experience to this lovely city. I have worked diligently to create a close working relationship with all members of the departments I have worked in as well as create a spirit of engagement and inclusion with all members of the communities I have served.

I’m always interested in innovative and new problem-solving initiatives and working with all law-enforcement partners to better serve the public. While in Boston, I collaborated with the Boston Bar Association Task Force to improve police investigations and prevent wrongful convictions, and was part of a team that set in motion a statewide standard for investigating officer involved shootings, long before it was a national topic of discussion.

Policing Portsmouth provides a number of unique challenges. Our daily service population is approximately 65,000 people; however we have well over 100 events annually which can draw as many as 100,000 people into our city for a single event. We also have a major university right up the road, “beach towns” to the north and south, an International Tradeport, a vibrant hospitality industry, and the largest per capita number of liquor licenses in the state, at over 150 that add to the challenge of policing this great city.

The department, governed by three elected police commissioners, comprises Patrol, Investigations, Strategic Services, Professional Standards, and Administration. The department is staffed with 68 full-time police officers, 27 auxiliary (part-time) police officers and 26 non-sworn civilian employees, including 11 dispatchers, 12 administrative staff and three part-time employees; all working to provide top level public safety for our city. The Portsmouth Police department works closely with our community partners, from the various neighborhood groups to the active business community, to keep Portsmouth a safe place for all to live and work. The department participates in local, regional and statewide initiatives such as the Seacoast Emergency Response Team and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force for New Hampshire.

In 2019, the police department became nationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). This program implements the best practices in policing, to include officer guidelines and performance-based accountability to provide quality police services to crime victims, witnesses and all members of the community, as well as foster an organizational culture where fundamental values include integrity, accountability, ethical decision making and respect for all our employees and citizens.

Come by, stay, and see all the beauty our coastal city has to offer.