BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Tuesday, July 14, the Bellows Falls Village Trustees discussed updates on the Bellows Falls Police Department and the police chief search.
Interim Police Chief David Bemis said the cruisers sold at auction, the BFPD received $5,400 for the 2014 Explorer and $610 for the 2005 Sportrak.
Village President Deborah Wright asked about the uniform change. Bemis changed the pants from dark blue to “coyote” in mid-June and said it was “relatively inexpensive.” He said, “One pair for some of the officers” were purchased, and some officers, including himself, bought their own. Bemis explained it “might not look as officious but it [is] more welcoming.”
James McAuliffe said he liked the look, and Masure agreed, “It’s nice to see everyone dressed alike.”
Bemis said new cruiser cameras were needed. Currently, there were only old ones. The cost for three vehicles would be $24,000. He was also researching body cameras. The cost to outfit every officer was over $20,000, and he suggested waiting for the Legislature to produce possible grant money.
Wright asked where the money was coming from as there was $4,000 in the equipment fund. Bemis said the plan was to use the seizure money, but he needed to wait for that from the Department of Justice. Masure asked if it was necessary for officers to have their own cameras, and Bemis said it was possible for officers to log out when off duty for another officer to utilize the camera, but that would not work for large events.
Interim Municipal Manager Chuck Wise recognized BFPD Officer Joshua Parro, describing him as “very hardworking…enthusiastic…exactly the kind of person we want to see in our PD.”
McAuliffe gave an update on the Police Chief Search Committee, which is represented also by Jeff Dunbar and three Village residents. They have selected six candidates to interview and hoped interviews would be completed by July 23.
McAuliffe explained the committee’s goal was to find a candidate and recommend them to the manager. Wise clarified that although hiring was the discretion of the manager, “My strong preference is to endorse the recommendation of the committee” due to concerns that the next chief “show the leadership that this community wants.”
McAuliffe cautioned Wise that if more than one candidate was recommended “it would have to be your decision.”
Wright said the Trustees will want input, and McAuliffe explained that he and Dunbar would keep the board posted.
Wise also noted that Saxtons River expressed interest in joining the website at www.rockinghamvt.org, and his main focus was for them to join the team.
The next meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House.