Haines Borough Police Chief Heath Scott’s first meeting with the Public Safety Commission this week included a two-hour closed door session during which Scott had commissioners sign nondisclosure agreements.

The commission voted unanimously to go into executive session “to review and discuss sensitive law enforcement material.”

According to the meeting’s public notice, Scott was scheduled to give a presentation on five items, although only three were listed as potential executive session topics.

At the beginning of the executive session, Scott had commissioners sign a three-page Department of Homeland Security nondisclosure agreement.

Manager Bill Seward was present in the closed-door meeting and signed the nondisclosure agreement, a move of Scott’s he said he supported.

When asked why the agreements were signed in executive session, as there is nothing in the state’s Open Meetings Act that would qualify the signing of such a document for executive session, Seward admitted he isn’t an expert on the subject.

“To be honest with you, not having a parliamentarian there to help guide things like we normally do on the assembly (probably contributed to the oversight),” Seward said.

Commission chair Jim Stanford and Seward also admitted that some elements of the two-hour discussion did not qualify for closed-door session, though they maintained the majority of Scott’s PowerPoint presentation qualified. The entire presentation took place behind closed doors.

“There was probably some parts of it that could have been done out in the public forum and probably should have been done, and minimized the time in executive session. So I will concede that,” Seward said.

Stanford said Scott spoke about “inner workings of the police department” that shouldn’t be public information.

“After listening to what (Scott) said, let’s put it this way: you probably wouldn’t want the criminals to know,” Stanford said.

According to the meeting’s public notice, Scott was scheduled to discuss “review of sensitive item inventory,” “review of officer complaint process” and “manpower.”

“Sensitive item inventory” includes guns, non-lethal weapons, badges and other items the department keeps locked up, Seward said.

Stanford confirmed Scott spoke about a recent citizen complaint against a current officer on the force.

Draft minutes compiled by commission secretary Kay Clements indicate Scott led the commission “through his thought process and work to date on (the) Office and Staff Retention Project, Recruiting, Marketing, Media Grants, Events and Training Calendar, Complaint process including a sample complaint and process of how it was submitted, addressed and resolved.”

Stanford said the commission asked Scott to sift out the “sensitive items” from the presentation so it could be delivered to the assembly in public. Stanford hopes it can be used to convince the assembly to increase police funding.

“That police force is very short staffed and we are trying to figure out a way to convince the elected body to fund an additional officer or two,” Stanford said. “Just to cover the shifts we need six officers. It would be better to have eight.”

Seward said he will be “more vigilant in the future” to keep executive sessions “as brief as possible.”

“There are some lessons to be gleaned from this and we probably did make some errors. I’ll take responsibility. I probably should have made a point of order. But you don’t know what you don’t know until after it has kind of occurred,” he said.

In the future, Seward said he will ensure a “qualified parliamentarian” like the clerk or deputy clerk is present to provide guidance on executive sessions.