Taylor, Smith and Cloud

St. Albans City Police Chief Gary Taylor, center, is flanked by Mayor Tim Smith, left and city manager Dominic Cloud, right, on the steps of St. Albans City Hall.

ST. ALBANS CITY — St. Albans City Police Chief Gary Taylor will be retiring at the end of this year.

Taylor, who turns 65 in July, has been leading the St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD) for 15 years and has served as a law enforcement officer for 48 years.

After nearly a half-century in law enforcement, it is his work at the SAPD that he is proudest of, Taylor said.

“I feel good about what I leave behind as a legacy,” he said. “We have some of the finest officers that where a badge and a gun in this state.”{p class=”western” align=”left”}St. Albans City Manager Dominic Cloud called Taylor a pioneer. “Pioneers are folks who are the first in. They redefine the landscape.”

During Taylor’s tenure, the city built a regional dispatch center that serves communities in three counties, increasing the dispatch staff from four to ten. The SAPD went from 15 officers to 28 and began providing services to neighboring communities.

The SAPD’s budget has increased from roughly $1 million funded almost entirely by the property tax to $4 million with offsetting revenue of $2.1 million.

Taylor also stabilized a department which had been experiencing high turnover and created career paths so the department could retain hardworking, ambitious officers instead of losing them to Chittenden County departments, said city manager Dominic Cloud. It was he said a “rebuilding of the department from the ground up.”

Taylor arrived at a time when the city, along with the rest of the state, was about to see a massive increase in illegal drug use and trafficking.

The chief didn’t hesitate to sound the alarm, including with public meetings.

“Taylor Park was five acres of overgrown, desolate, poorly lighted... anti-social behavior,” said Taylor. The city took action to clean up the park itself, and the SAPD addressed the behavior.

The police have been part of the city’s revitalization, in the view of Mayor Tim Smith. Businesses considering relocating or expanding are looking at the overall community, quality of education, health care, police force and infrastructure, he said. “It’s one piece of a the puzzle, for sure, but it’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

Under Taylor, the SAPD was among the first police agencies in Vermont to have cameras in their cruisers and then to wear body cameras. The department adopted a data-driven approach to policing that identified where both crimes and accidents were most likely to occur and concentrated efforts there. He created a Street Crimes Unit to address the illegal drug trade head on, and has been dedicated to emergency preparedness, including creating Survive Vermont, a training for the public and in schools on how to respond to a mass shooting. Survive Vermont has been adopted by the state as the approach to be used in Vermont schools and was recently featured in a magazine published by the International Association of Police Chiefs.

“Law enforcement is evolving and changing,” said Taylor, adding that what the public wants and expects from law enforcement is also changing. Adjusting to those changes and leading a department through those changes is “going to take a lot of energy.”

If he was 20 years younger, Taylor said he might have the energy for that work.

“Every day of my career I’ve gotten up and gone to work thinking I’m going to do good, make lives better and make the community better,” said Taylor, adding that he still feels that way.

His decisions, he said, have always been guided by what he saw as the best interests of the community.

Before he departs, Taylor will be wrapping up several projects for the city.

“For a while now, it’s been the job of the commanders to work with the troops,” said Cloud. The police department has three commanders, with a commander also heading the dispatch center and fire department. As part of the transition, tasks will continue to shift from Taylor to the commanders, said Cloud.

The city recently hired Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI) to do a review of hiring and onboarding practices in the SAPD. Now, the city council, with input from MRI and the commanders, will determine what will be needed in a new chief, Cloud explained. There will be a lot of planning before a search is started, he said.

“I don’t expect to find another Chief Taylor,” said Cloud. “That’s an impossible task.”

Smith said Taylor’s shoes will be tough to fill. “He did great things for the city and we appreciated everything he did.”

“Chief Taylor has dedicated the last 15 years to protecting the citizens of our community and has done so with integrity,” said city councilor Chad Spooner. “He has seen us through some rough times and has changed how we police our communities. We owe a lot of gratitude to the Chief. I wish him the best in his retirement and hope he gets to do all the things he has not been able to do because he has been here for the citizens of St. Albans.”

Taylor’s decision to leave isn’t something new, but it does come following what has been a challenging year for the SAPD, with three use of force incidents drawing statewide attention and an officer accused of kidnapping and assaulting a woman to prevent her from discussing his alleged sexual abuse of her when she was a child and he was a teenager.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for taking part in our commenting section. We want this platform to be a safe and inclusive community where you can freely share ideas and opinions. Comments that are racist, hateful, sexist or attack others won’t be allowed. Just keep it clean. Do these things or you could be banned:

• Don’t name-call and attack other commenters. If you’d be in hot water for saying it in public, then don’t say it here.

• Don’t spam us.

• Don’t attack our journalists.

Let’s make this a platform that is educational, enjoyable and insightful.

Email questions to darkin@orourkemediagroup.com.

Share your opinion

Avatar

Join the conversation

Recommended for you