N.P.D--to be or not to be? The time to act is now if you want to save the police department.
You pay the taxes. You should get what you pay for
Good morning Norwich,
A little history first:
I started my free blog, “ My Newsletter about Norwich,” several years ago to share some of the good things about Norwich and bring the community together by covering events around town. Here is the link if you would like to check them out.
I had just finished a 14 year stint as a CATV videographer filming Select board and other municipal meetings in Norwich, Hartford, Hartland, Hanover and Lebanon. In this position, I witnessed first hand the politics that can happen before a decision is made.
Although I have managed to stay away from writing political stories, this is one time I feel strongly that I must share my view on the importance of what might happen if we don’t act now to fill the vacancies on the police force as soon as possible. Chaos? You bet. You may have read listserv reports of speeding on our streets. The recent approval to purchase speed signs might be a temporary motivator, however, they can not take the place of regular police patrols and enforcement of speed zones.
Accidents are not being responded to in a timely fashion as our one remaining police officer in charge cannot be everywhere at the same time. There were four burglaries in the month of July alone. How do you expect the one remaining police officer to handle all of this? Here are the last 3 monthly reports of the Norwich Police department.
You can view several more of these on this link and then scroll down to the story you want to read.
Congrats goes to Anna Ingraham for the job she is doing despite the lack of resources.
I felt inspired to do this story after reading all of the listserv posts and especially Judy Phillip’s post on Tuesday on the Norwich List Serv. In her posting ( which I have included below) Judy writes about the strong community policing style that Chief Jennifer M Frank developed while here in Norwich.
You can view these If you click this link:
https://aboutnorwich.substack.com/archive?sort=search&search=police you will see many of the stories regarding community policing in Norwich that were done on my blog. Chief Keeling did an excellent job of interacting with and cared for the community he served, and tried to rebuild his department. In the end in my opinion he left because of lack of support and resources.
I have attended several recent select board zoom meetings and expressed my opinion during the public comment section of the meeting and also have been reading the many listserv posts. Thanks to all who have participated in this process. Your efforts may still prevail.
The voters of Norwich voted in March of this year to not pay the $ 50,000.00 to study policing in Norwich once again, and to instead keep the police force staffed at the level that was recommended by the last Police Services committee and approved by the select board. The select board and the town manager need to be as transparent as legally possible with the residents of Norwich and should schedule an agenda item for a question and answer session where the residents of Norwich can feel like they are part of the process. It is one thing to be told, “thank you for your comment,” but it would be nice to actually get an answer to your questions even if it is not the answer you may want to hear. An agenda for questions and answers was set in past years and has proven to be very effective.
Please take a moment to read Judy’s post and hopefully you will agree with me on this issue. Norwich is one of the highest per capita towns in Vermont and should not be without a properly staffed and trained police force. Judy stated in her last sentence that it is not too late to turn this ship around. I hope that our municipal leaders will show the community that they have the leadership skills to steer Norwich back to what it was - a nice town to live in and a safe one at that.
After reading this you may want to reach out to the the town manager and the select board with a letter or e-mail and maybe even attend a select board meeting. After all you just might be the captains and crew that are needed to guide us back to a safe place - The Norwich we all need now.
Town manager contacts are here: http://norwich.vt.us/town-managers-office/
Select board e-mail : Selectboard@norwich.vt.us
Here is Judy’s posting
20. Norwich Policing Issues
From: Judy Phillips <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2022 15:06:58 -0400
Thank you, Leslie Wells, for summarizing the recent discussion of this issue. I appreciate the efforts of those mentioned in her post and the many others who have addressed concerns due to the current trends in Norwich’s public employment in the DPW and NPD.
In my view, the citizens of Norwich are losing out, particularly with the NPD departures. Chief Frank was excellent, very well-qualified, professional and dedicated to developing strong community relations - and both Chief Keeling and other officers have been kind, respectful professionals. I’m not sure how we can expect our current sole officer to remain an employee of the NPD. Just as I value those who dedicate their time to serve on the SB, our town government must show respect in its relations with all of our public employees. Norwich should avoid being generally regarded as disrespectful to its employees and/or having a reputation for a toxic work environment. We are also now beginning to have a publicized status as a nearly cop-free zone.
I do realize that there is disagreement among our fellow townspeople on the police issue. However, police are not uniformly bad and abusive. For decades, I have supported criminal justice reform and the development of uniform, national standards in police practices to eliminate abuse and provide an equal application of justice for all Americans. In addition to my own prior public employment, I write our reps and also editors of newspapers, and worked the past 6 months on a senatorial campaign for a candidate who supported funding the police as well as criminal justice reform. There’s a necessary balance between public safety and the fair and equitable administration of justice. Eliminating our department and compromising public safety here does absolutely nothing to stop abusive practices in other jurisdictions.
I believe we need to be educated on the actual impact of the elimination of the PD on the quality of life. The recent posting of links to NPD statistics was helpful.
Public safety is, to me, like national security on the Federal level, one of the prime responsibilities of government.
I sure hope it’s not too late to turn this ship around.
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Demo’s integrity is well known and respected. His coverage of Norwich town government via his work with CATV is unmatched and makes his commentary especially valuable. I hope it gets a proper response.