Police meeting discusses the lack of personnel, resources to get job done in Vermont

INTELLIGENCE BASED POLICING: Vermont State Police Trooper Jeremy Lyon speaks at a community meeting Wednesday at Vermont Law School.

SOUTH ROYALTON — Various police and community leaders gathered in a campus hall at Vermont Law School on Wednesday evening to discuss the general lack of resources and other issues facing law enforcement in the Green Mountain State.

Regular meetings over Intelligence Based Policing have been ongoing for several months. The goal of the policing strategy is to bring the police into regular contact with communities, and to get local professionals to work together. This is especially important when resources are spread thin.

Attendees at the meeting included Republican gubernatorial candidate John Klar, Orange County State Senate candidate Bill Huff, Orange County State’s Attorney Will Porter,  Windsor County State’s Attorney Ward Goodenough, Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, state Rep. John O’Brien, D-Tunbridge, and more. Around 50 members of the public also attended.

Dana Colson, of South Royalton, was the moderator. Colson does not have a specific law enforcement background, but he has been involved in policing matters since his son, Austin Colson, went missing in early 2018.

Colson says the police have one person of interest in the case who was working with his son on the morning he disappeared. Colson says the man has a spotty record and had transferred from a secure federal prison to a rehabilitation center, where he stayed for one week before getting back on the streets.

“I don’t think that did much good for anybody,” Colson said at the meeting.

He gave another example — a man who just spent one hour in rehab before stealing a car, kidnapping a woman and her child, and raping the woman before finally getting caught in Pennsylvania.

“They basically used [rehab] as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” he said.

Colson said Vermont needs a rehabilitation center for addicts that has security comparable to the prisons they are being transferred from.

Another discussion at the meeting was the lack of officers in Vermont, including too few recruits in training. One officer stated that the media portrays police in such a negative light that it has begun affecting the ability to recruit.

State’s Attorney Will Porter said most of Vermont’s barracks are short-handed.

“I think every single state police barracks in the state of Vermont is short,” he said. “I handle all of the cases that come out of the Royalton State Police Barracks, and that barracks, I believe, has been short-staffed for almost three or four years straight.”

It’s not just the officers that are limited; the court system is also backlogged. State’s Attorney Ward Goodenough said that the waiting times are getting troublesome.

“Some counties have court more often than others,” he said. “Some counties have more prosecutors and defense attorneys. There are different stress points in that system, but there is a delay in every county in Vermont when it comes to how quickly it can be heard,” he said.

Bohnyak said his department needs more to curb the drug trade.

“When you talk about drug trafficking in Vermont, the Sheriff’s Department and the municipals [police departments], the resources aren’t there,” he said.

He added the state almost lost $2 million dollars in federal money because Vermont has been getting too liberal on immigration. He said it wasn’t until a letter to the feds was modified at the last minute that Vermont was able to take the money.

Sheriff Bohnyak said law enforcement officers need to be able to find out who the illegal immigrants are, and to take the steps necessary to keep Vermont safe.

“We should be doing our jobs and helping our federal partners with the illegal immigration part,” he said.

The federal government this past year has threatened to deny millions in federal grant money over Vermont’s growing status as a sanctuary state. In 2017, Gov. Phil Scott signed immigration bill S.79, which makes it illegal for state officials to share residents’ personally identifiable information — including immigration status, national origin, religion, race and color —  with federal agencies.

Klar, who recently announced his candidacy for governor, talked about how Vermont’s soft approach to crime is helping hard drugs come in from out of state.

“This is an invitation to the wrong element,” he said. “This is like green pastures to cows.”

Klar took issue with the notion that police are pulling over drivers because of their race.

“I’ve talked to some of the police and they’ve told me they’re not racist,” he said. “They said ‘if you are speeding, then I will pull you over.'”

The meeting covered a handful of other subjects, including the new LEAD (Law Enforcement Against Drugs ) program for schools, which is a more science-based successor to the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program of past years.

There was also discussion on what is required to convict someone of a crime, and why it’s always important to share tips with law enforcement, even if it must be done anonymously.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

17 thoughts on “Police meeting discusses the lack of personnel, resources to get job done in Vermont

  1. I’m very surprised that the fire unions continue to put up with the volunteer fire departments.A fireman that is willing to work some overtime can make over $100k per year.How much are these people that are volunteering making?
    These are jobs people! Good paying jobs with great pensions and healthcare for life.Is the private sector giving you that?

  2. So in a previous article you have Senator Sears, who represents a drug infested section of Vermont. In his statements, he is complicit in running cover for the drug dealers by promoting and sending people off track with misleading statistics that would imply our state police might be racist because they don’t arrest an equal ratio of blacks and wihites based upon the populations.

    Senator Sears is running cover for out of state drug dealers with this statement. Why can I say that? Well the statistic they keep intentionally ignoring in every report???? Men are incarcerated at 10-15 times the rate of women.

    So would this imply the state troopers are SEXIST???????

    Of course not, but it might imply that Senator Sears and all those who pose misleading stories backed up by bogus statistics are intentionally, willfully and systematically allowing drug dealers to come into the state under their cover. Senator Sears and those who hang with this false profile are an even bigger problem for Vermont, they are running cover for the drug dealers, plain and simple.

  3. Body cams for all police, so the press and courts can not unjustly proscecute them. Vt digger is definitely anti police, almost to the degree of anti- trump.

    If you have a million positive police interactions and you only talk about one instance, over and over with false accusations and bias, to suddenly find out because of the cameras it was all a hoax. You are not press you are a propagandist with an obvious agenda.

    You have a press that supports terrible decisions in the court system, can find no wrong with our justice system you perpetuate in effective and unjust decisions.

    Everybody in every town knows who is and where the drugs are being dealt. The problem is leadership. Nobody is willing to say your directive this year is to focus 90%’of all your efforts and money on drug enforcement. They don’t think it will be financially beneficial like writing speeding tickets, they are wrong.

    New people are getting on drugs daily. Families are ruined daily. Babies are born daily addicted to hardcore drugs. The savings of, money, life. Healthcare, counseling would be staggering. Think DCF! Think homeless problem, think crime.
    England brought China to its knees with the opium wars. Opium is killing our state, it’s hemorrhage get our state of money.

    What do you think the states expenses are for every child born addicted? Aside from what should clearly be a major crime, it probably costs the state at least a half million to million dollars every time this occurs.

    Drugs and alcohol are nobodies friend.

    • VT Digger’s recent article about he unfortunate instance of Mr. Kilburn assaulting a police officer is a classic case of propaganda. This is a major tragedy, for everyone, including the police officer. How is this portrayed even after Donovan has declared the officer did no wrong? What was the headline?

      No charges for Burlington officer in Douglas Kilburn’s death

      How about stating the officer was assaulted and defended himself? It immediately implies something different, how about obviously innocent? I’m sure there will be massive moderation in the comment section. It’s very sad situation.

      Was there any discussion, any, that perhaps assaulting people, anybody, let alone a police officer is not a good strategy in life? Who says it’s ok to punch people in the head? Seriously. We’re getting dumber by the day.

  4. The VT police agencies (State, Sheriff, City/town etc), need to get out of those $xpensive vehicles and stop believing they are only traffic police, as drove to catch a flight in Boston on a Thursday afternoon, and from Rutland to White River via Rte 4, my dghtr and I viewed 11 police vehicles along the way, with approximately half having vehicles pulled over, as we slowly crawled through VT, avoiding speed traps, then reached the border with NH, sped up to 65mph all the way to Logan Airport, and viewed only one Mass state police vehicle until reaching our destination. We were wide eyed and stunned at the amount VT police vehicles we counted as an in car game! Wow as something is off in VT. we thought.

  5. And their answer is: turn Vermont into a police state. Vermont has fewer residents than Rhode Island and we’ve only grown by about 150,000 since the 1960s. No more police. Government should do more with less.

      • Oh, please. As if area has anything to do with it. And you’d better check facts before you make statements like that. Rhode Island has a population of over 1 million.

      • Being rural does not justify a need for more law enforcement personnel. In fact, it only outlines that we have fewer taxpayers available to fund such growth. I stand by my initial posting: no more police and delete agencies.

  6. Suggestion – instead of spending funds on feel good, worthless projects, how about providing our law enforcement folks the resources they need to chase the bad guys?????

  7. Perhaps the officer complaining about negative media should read the articles about what occurred in Montgomery. When the truth is negative, it still needs to be addressed and rectified. Rather than circling the wagons and denying everything, perhaps taking proactive steps to change would begin to restore some trust, which is low and eroding.

  8. I’d like to thank everyone who came and participated in last nights event. We had a great discussion on many issues. Vermont has been too soft on the hard drugs and related crimes for too long. We need to take the market away from the dealers. First, with educating our kids through the LEAD program to prevent them from becoming addicts. Second, we need better rehab for current addicts. Catch & release does not get detoxification done! Let’s help them become employable, tax paying, productive citizens again.

  9. Frankly, I’m okay with this. I’ve lived in plenty of places with lots of police around, and it creates more problems than it solves. Keep the VT police presence minimal — but at the same time stop attacking our gun rights!

  10. The idea that Police officers have been “handcuffed” by the legislators should be a warning to all Vermonters about their agenda. The passage of Senate Bill 79 by Gov. Scott was a slap in the face for law enforcement and an open invitation for criminal activity to increase in Vermont…and then to add insult to injury in 2019 he calls Police Officers RACIST for doing their job.

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