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Town and Village

Board mulls State Police patrol costs

GUILFORD—The Vermont State Police investigated 381 cases in Guilford in 2016, according to a report issued by Lt. Anthony French, commander of the Westminster Barracks. The state police are contracted to serve the town’s law-enforcement needs.

“Directed patrols” — requests from town officials to monitor certain parts of town, typically for speeding — topped the list at 72 cases.

Calls for “suspicious” activity came in next, with 45 cases.

State troopers wrote 46 traffic tickets and 20 written warnings last year, numbers that don’t include traffic stops on the interstate.

French visited the Selectboard at their Feb. 13 regular meeting to review the report and the town’s contract with the state police. He was there at Town Administrator Peder Rude’s request.

Residents wanted to know if the state police spend any time patrolling Guilford beyond the contracted eight hours per month, and if so, who pays for that extra time, Rude told French.

Some troopers live in or near Guilford, French said, and “you sign on for duty from your house and you can go out and patrol wherever you want,” unless a supervisor issues specific direction.

Because of this, and other travels through Guilford, troopers patrol at “random times of the day” in addition to the contracted hours, French said.

Rude asked French why the state police’s hourly contracted law-enforcement rate is higher than that of the Windham County Sheriff Department.

Because the town contracts so few hours with the state police, “we have to pay someone overtime” to respond to Guilford calls, French said, adding, “it’s above and beyond” their regular, daily duties.

But following up on tickets and arrests, including court time, “is on us,” French said.

At Selectboard Chair Sheila Morse’s request, French agreed to return the mobile speed carts around town and move them periodically during the spring and summer. French said the carts are “great” because they collect data on vehicular traffic, including time of travel and rate of speed.

Morse asked French if the state police have received many speeding complaints from residents. Last summer, some townspeople appeared at Board meetings to vehemently complain about speeders on the flat, straight stretch of Guilford Center Road.

French said, “no,” but Board Vice-Chair Troy Revis reminded him, “Spring is coming!”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #399 (Wednesday, March 15, 2017).

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