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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Valleywide law enforcement?




By Kara Herlihy

Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Peter Laskowski was present at the October 18 meeting of the Mad River Valley Planning District Steering Committee to discuss the possibility of Valleywide law enforcement and how to move forward with coordinated police coverage for the three Valley towns.

Laskowski is the constable in Waitsfield and Warren and is proposing that the towns who are looking for effective law enforcement utilize their constables through volunteer action and effective training. He said, "Towns should see who they can get, either through appointment or election."

Laskowski suggests that training be done in an "organized fashion" while it is possible to become a constable (of limited power) without certification from the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, unlike many other Vermont towns.

It took Laskowski two years to complete the training process, which involves heavy classroom work and on-the-job training, which is difficult to find because "you have to work with a police department or sheriff's department," Laskowski said.

"A constable association provides a mechanism to get different constables together to propose training and volunteer support" he added.  

Basic standards dictate that there is one constable for every 1,000 residents. By that standard, The Valley is way undermanned. Fayston elects two constables a year, but they are "more ceremonial than working," Laskowski said.

The proposed constable association participants would, as Laskowski pointed out, begin as volunteers but become more active in law enforcement issues, help with education and neighborhood watch committees.

The Steering Committee was supportive of the initiative, according to Laskowski, because "they are in favor because local policing is more responsive to community needs."

He added, "An association would help focus on the problem at hand, issues of youth, drugs, speed control and break-ins....We need input from the select boards on how to get constables more active."

"It is a flexible position, but at the same time there is a need for more effective patrol on the street." Laskowski said, adding, "My hope is to have more police presence that is responsive to community needs, with an increasing number of individuals taking a more active leadership position."

The Steering Committee agreed to bring the constable association proposal to the November 8 three-town select board meeting and "aim for getting constables appointed by the select board of each town rather than elected."


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