ARLINGTON — The Arlington Select Board agreed to contract with the Vermont State Police for extra patrols in town two weeks after deciding to part ways with the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department.
Vermont State Police Lt. Thomas Mozzer called in to the Select Board’s meeting Tuesday to answer questions about a proposed service contract for the town.
Mozzer told the board the VSP provides service to other small towns and added that Arlington’s high number of resident troopers would help the town naturally.
Mozzer told the board that he would recommend five-to-eight hours of service per week, which is just under the nine hours per week the board had discussed at it’s previous meeting when the board decided to cancel its contract with the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department.
“I would recommend just five-to-eight hours per week and then you can determine if you need more or less,” Mozzer said. “I think you’re getting a decent amount of patrol with the Troopers living in town now.”
It’s been known that that the number of troopers who live in Arlington are effectively patrolling as they leave their house to begin their shift and return at the end of their shift. Some might also head home for lunch adding to the police presence in town.
Mozzer said combined with that natural police presence, the addition of targeted patrols would provide what the town needed.
The change from Sheriff’s patrols to State Police patrols began in the summer when the board evaluated its annual contract with the BCSD.
Select Board member Matthew Bykowski looked into the value of the services for the money spent and he wasn’t impressed with what he found.
The board restructured its contract with the Sheriff’s Department to begin the new year on July 1, but it didn’t take long for friction to develop.
Town Administrator Nick Zaiac said a marijuana cultivation investigation in August resulted in the town being charged for the investigation, preparation of a search warrant, arrest and more resulting in “$405 in unauthorized time billed to the town.”
Bykowski, looking into this event found the town had been overbilled for five hours and in the ensuing discussion with BCSD’s Capt. Andrew Hurley on Oct. 6, Bykowski said Hurley abruptly said the department would be canceling the contract.
The board voted to terminate the contract Oct. 12 with 15 days notice, ending the contract on Oct. 27.
The day after the last board meeting, Zaiac contact Mozzer setting the stage for this week’s meeting.
Mozzer told the board he thought a three-month temporary contract would make sense to ensure the VSP could provide the services and the town would be happy with it.
“I think we all agree on a trial basis initially,” Mozzer said. “My proposal would be that we try it for three months to make sure we have troopers that can work it and you’re happy. I want it to be successful.”
The VSP is already patrolling Arlington as part of its normal operation and detailed the amount of service the town had received over the past 12 months.
Mozzer said Troopers had investigated 498 cases and made 33 arrests. He said there had been 275 vehicle stops and 70 tickets issued townwide.