The Vermont State Police have been seeing increased activity in drug trafficking, shootings and highway accidents.
Big drug bust
A police report indicates that troopers with the Middlesex Barracks and Barre City Police Department searched a suspicious residence with a warrant in Williamstown. Among other details, the report indicates that Rex Comstock, 42, a local resident, was arrested for the alleged distribution of crack cocaine.
“State Police suspected that crack cocaine was being distributed from a residence on Graham Road, during the month of April they said,” News10 reported on Friday.
Troopers found large amounts of drugs, according to the report: “about 35 grams of crack cocaine and 7.8 grams of powder cocaine allegedly belonging to Alexander Cotton, 28, of Springfield, Massachusetts. Troopers also alleged that about 13 lbs of marijuana belonging to Comstock and 200 mg of fentanyl belonging to Alana Perras, 33, of Cabot were found at the residence.”
Gun crimes on the rise
According to comments by the Vermont Department of Public Safety, gun crimes generally are on the rise in the state. Vermont has seen 94 violent gun incidents so far in 2022. These include three homicides, eight non-lethal gunshot injuries, 25 shots fired near others, 11 instances of property damage, and 47 threats with a gun.
Update on last Monday’s Burlington City Hall gunfight
During the early hours on May 13, a gunfight involving multiple parties was reported at City Hall Park in Burlington. On Thursday, an update from police said stray bullets hit numerous popular establishments, and one man narrowly escaped being struck in the head.
“Officers arrived on scene and provided immediate medical aid to the person with a bullet wound,” the police report states. “He was bleeding from his head. He was transported to the UVM Medical Center with a bullet wound channel that spanned between the back of his neck to his ear. His prognosis is good that he will recover.”
The update also indicates that numerous iconic locations in the popular city center were hit by stay bullets. “Initial investigation determined that this person and another engaged in a shootout that left bullet holes in the store front window of Burton Snowboard and Community Bank, both located on College Street. There was also a bullet hole in the newly erected public restroom in City Hall Park. Another bullet shattered a window at the Flynn Theater,” the report states.
Highway accidents on the rise
There have been 25 highway deaths in Vermont so far in 2022 — an uptick from the 19 accidents reported this time last year. Vermont’s highway fatalities “have been climbing steadily since 2019, and the 74 road deaths recorded in 2021 marked Vermont’s highest count in nearly a decade,” VTDigger reported.
Distracted driving continues to be a major culprit.
“Texting is the most alarming distraction,” states the Vermont Department of Health website. “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
Help on the way?
The state is struggling to fill in its officer vacancies. The State Police on Sunday put out a press release indicating that they are hiring Dan Nelson as a new recruitment specialist to the agency’s Office of Professional Development.
“The addition of Nelson to the VSP team comes at a time of staffing challenges for police agencies across the country. Currently, the Vermont State Police has about 48 vacancies in its authorized strength of 333 sworn troopers,” the release states.