A Vermont community is at a crossroads, after the gradual departures of all its full-time police officers. Those departures have Randolph now looking into permanently disbanding its police department.
The community does have a seven-day-a-week law enforcement presence, but it’s temporary–through the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies cover the Randolph police district from 8 a.m. until midnight on weekdays, and later on weekends.
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Additionally, Vermont State Police troopers are available to provide Randolph with supplemental coverage, according to spokesman Adam Silverman.
A special committee is now looking into whether the district even needs its own police force, or if sticking with contracted coverage would save money.
“It is very strange not to have a police department,” said Mary Porter of Randolph, who’d like to see a permanent police department in town. “I’ve been here over 40 years—we’ve always had a police department.”
“If the sheriffs have the staffing, I’m very happy with the job they’ve been doing, and personally, I’m okay with the way it is,” said Brian Van Dyke of Randolph.
Randolph’s town manager, Adolfo Bailon, told necn & NBC 10 Boston that four full-time police district employees left for other jobs over the last year, including the police chief. A fifth employee retired, and a sixth position went unfilled.
“I’m the only one left,” said Emile Fredette, a part-time officer sworn to the Randolph Police Department.
Fredette works only occasionally for Randolph, focusing instead on his full-time job as the director of public safety at Vermont Technical College.
“It’s a shame to see it go,” Fredette said of Randolph no longer having its own full-time department.
Bailon said he’s promising a thoughtful process to charting the future for patrols here.
He said if the community decides to go back to having its own force, it would mean expenditures on a new building for the department, to the tune of $800,000 to $1-M. He also noted that sticking with sheriff’s deputies for coverage should mean additional savings to Randolph, such as on liability insurance.
Bailon said he has heard from people on both sides of the issue, and looks forward to continuing the work of the committee to figure out what is the best solution for the community and for taxpayers long-term.
As for that lone part-time officer, Emile Fredette? He said one upside to the police department disbanding is more time with his wife.
“Finally, I’m home at night,” Fredette said, smiling.
Randolph is not the only Vermont town to recently face a future without its own local police department.
In Waterbury, two resident Vermont State Troopers are under contract for local policing, after voters dissolved the village government, including its force.