Tim Wessel

Our police department, our values

Brattleboro’s force has emphasized a ‘guardian culture,’ with de-escalation trainings and compassion at its core

As cities and towns across the United States grapple with a new awareness for the need to have a responsive and responsible local police force, Brattleboro residents should remember some of the good work we've already done in our town toward these ends.

When Michael Fitzgerald, born and raised in town, became our police chief in 2014, he began to methodically and systematically transform the institution from one that resembled a typical police department into one that more properly reflects the values of our community.

Through smart new officer hires and working together with existing officers, Chief Fitzgerald has concentrated on moving the entire department from a “warrior” mentality to a “guardian” culture, concentrating much energy into de-escalation trainings and putting compassion at the center of the BPD.

The department's updated mission statement now reflects those values: “While serving the community, we recognize the differences in the conduct of people who need our help, those who make poor decisions, and those who choose to victimize others.”...

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Selectboard is hardly insensitive to homelessness

‘Let’s all work together, using democracy and dialogue — not demands — to keep the ultimate, long-range goal in mind’

The Brattleboro Selectboard is a group of five volunteers who are committed to a healthy and vibrant town. If you've ever attended our meetings or watched them on BCTV, you know that we go out of our way to hear and acknowledge the voices of anyone who brings concerns...

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We all want the same thing: a vibrant, thriving community

A 1-percent local-option sales tax will shift a small portion of tax burden from struggling residents to visitors and those who can afford to buy non-essential items.

I found BDCCs recent commentary, written in opposition to the town's consideration of a 1-percent local-option tax for property-tax relief, to be quite scattered and confusing. In it, we are told that “another local tax is a short-term and shortsighted fix to a decades-long problem.” But no one imagines...

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Who’s ‘they’ in local government? You.

In online discussions of local issues, it seems common for citizens to speak of the people who make decisions as “they.” “They should put a light at that intersection.” “They're raising our taxes once again.” “They” is everywhere in online discussions, and even in person, of course. But in discussion of local politics or decisions, not national or worldwide issues, its use strikes me as curious. On one level, of course, it's a semantic term of convenience: a lazy use...

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Local-option sales tax will strengthen Brattleboro’s financial sustainability

I have to strongly disagree with Nancy Braus's opinion that adding a penny to the existing sales tax that her customers already pay would be hurtful to Brattleboro. The data from the 1-percent tax added to meals, rooms, and alcohol, instituted 10 years ago, clearly shows no dip in sales in Brattleboro, and indeed has averaged a 3-to-4-percent rise per year, and a 15-percent rise last year. These figures show that visitors and residents (since local residents actually do pay...

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Heating-oil petition dismisses good already done

I'm usually a fan of petitions. They're an easy way to make your voice heard, especially these days when, on a national level, it sometimes feels like our leaders don't share our values. But lately a local social-media petition has been trying my patience a bit. The petition urging our town to “End Brattleboro's Municipal Use of Heating Oil” points out, fairly, that our town emits large amounts of carbon dioxide from burning fuel oil and that we should be...

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Brattleboro Selectboard candidate: unexpected challenge is actually a blessing

I was impressed by the turnout and the energy of the recent Brattleboro Selectboard Candidates forum to which I was lucky enough to have been invited. The grassroots energy that has been ignited by recent turns in national politics is clearly being seen locally with an increase in protests, vocal support for historically underrepresented populations, and initiatives for ballot questions put before the voters. At the forum, that energy resulted in some questions that were difficult for me to answer,

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A loss for Brattleboro

I'm so sad about the passing of Kathy LeBlanc, who worked at Brown and Roberts Hardware as long as I've been in this area. I only knew her through the store, but her patient help and great wit were things I always looked forward to when I went in. It's people like her that make our town such a wonderful place to be, and I'm going to miss her every time I go in, which tends to be at least...

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