ST. ALBANS TOWN — The sheriff has come to town, and word on the street is the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department is looking to spruce up its fleet, ramp up its staff and give inaugural coverage of St. Albans Town the best they’ve got.
“It’s a lot easier to gear down than it is to gear up,” said Sheriff Roger Langevin during Monday’s meeting of the town selectboard. “But we’re doing it. We’re going to be ready for July 1.”
This is the first year that St. Albans Town has contracted with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department as opposed to the St. Albans City Police Department, which notably cost the city $1.2 million in revenue when they lost the contract for police coverage of St. Albans Town to the sheriff’s department.
The town signed with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department (FCSD) following a request for proposals initiated in May 2020. According to a powerpoint citing both RFPs, a revised contract from SAPD would have cost the town an estimated $7.1 million over five years, while the updated FCSD contract would cost an estimated $6.2 million.
Langevin said the department has hired five new staff members who have been through the part-time academy, which has been one of the only options for officer hopefuls during COVID-19.
“Our best recruiting tool has been other deputies that we’ve had here at the office,” Langevin said.
One full-timer will come from southern Vermont, and negotiations are underway with two other staff that are currently members of other departments, but Langevin said they would consider out-of-state recruitments as a way to expand their hiring pool.
“People-wise, I think we’re doing okay,” Langevin said. “We have plenty of full-timers right now that we can adjust to the town patrols.”
Cpt. John Grismore said the department is at an advantage during the pandemic as the field training that normally occurs at the end of the police academy period, which the department has been conducting in preparation for their town contract, is slated to start this July.
“When they do come out of the academy, and they are that level three certification, then they hit the road immediately,” Grismore said.
The department initially wanted Dodge Durango cruisers, but after an email exchange with another deputy, the department said they’re actually going to go with two Dodge Chargers for financial reasons.
“If those Chargers aren’t ready to go, we have sufficient vehicles with which to cover the town,” Langevin said.
“We’re being very conscientious about the spend,” said Grismore. “Ford Explorers are kind of the stand-by for most police agencies, and we’ve looked at Dodges because they’re less expensive ... One of the things we have committed to you is that we wouldn’t exceed a certain dollar amount.”
The department is also going through language barrier training, as well as rail-car incident training, exploring hostile intruder strategies, and launching community teaming events, opportunities for the public to collaborate with their local departments to strengthen community connections and more deeply familiarize the residents of the community with their local sheriff.
In preparation for their mid-summer launch, the department is “reinvigorating” its tactical team, which Grismore said the department doesn’t ever want to have to use, but will be there and in ship-shape should the town ever need to call.
“Personally, (this) can’t come soon enough,” Grismore said. “I’m ready to take the town over now and show the people of the town what our office is capable of doing.”