WEATHERSFIELD, Vt. — The select board voted Monday to proceed with a plan to provide police services to Cavendish and Baltimore as well as Weathersfield.
Doing so would apparently require a full-time officer, but the town is already hiring a part-time officer, and it is unclear if an officer specifically for this duty would need to be hired.
Police Chief William Daniels and Town Manager Ed Morris are backing the concept for fiscal year 2020 because of a sense that sharing police coverage would help all three towns. Morris has told the select board on previous occasions that he thinks Cavendish has a crime problem and needs the help.
Cavendish and Baltimore do not have their own police departments, and rely on the sheriff’s office and the Vermont State Police for coverage. But at least in Cavendish, the state police have been busy lately.
According to VSP statistics, the state police have responded to calls in Cavendish 228 times since May this year. No breakdown of the calls was provided however, and Cavendish Town Manager Brendan McNamara notes the calls could mean traffic accidents or other things. “I don’t believe by any means we have a high crime rate,” he said in an interview with the Eagle Times.
He declined to comment on the Weathersfield proposal.
Morris had no comment when told of the 228 calls in Cavendish by the state police.
Daniels said at Monday’s meeting that he has not specifically reached out to either town yet. Morris said his sense was that the towns were waiting for Weathersfield to make a move. “They are ... pretty ready to go to town meeting,” he said.
According to the minutes of the Nov. 19 select board meeting, Morris said the town of Baltimore sounded “semi-positive” when contacted.
Most of the Weathersfield discussion about the issue centers on the financing. The town is already recruiting for a 20-hour a week officer, and that person would probably move to a full time position if this plan goes forward. However, at Monday’s meeting, Daniels said it was possible for a part-time certified officer to work 40 hours, provided the extra hours were on administrative work and not on investigative work.
He also said his sense of the work was that there would not be a lot of driving among the towns with heavy mileage on a police vehicle. Much time would be taken writing reports, for example.
In other action, the select board continued discussion of the new municipal fire department, reviewing a list of questions and items from the previous meeting. Chair Kelly Murphy asked that the audience, including members of both current departments, show hands for addressing the issues either before or after the next town meeting. Most of the issues were slotted into one or other of the categories, and a few need further discussion.