Outgoing Police Chief James Warden releases statement to Shelburne community

Outgoing Shelburne Police Chief James W. Warden. Photo courtesy of Shelburne Police Department


Outgoing Shelburne Police Chief James Warden has released a letter to the community through the Shelburne News, thanking the community as he steps down from the post he has held since 1987.

“When I was hired, I said it would be an honor to serve and protect you and the wonderful community of Shelburne as your police chief, and it truly has been 30 incredible years,” he wrote in a statementreleased Tuesday.

His one-page firsthand message came as local residents were organizing an appreciation rally for Warden on Friday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on the Village Green.

Last week, town officials and a lawyer for Warden announced they had reached an agreement about Warden’s impending retirement one month after news of a three-day suspension in July became public.

The agreement spelled out details whereby Warden resigned as chief, but will remain on staff as a consultant through the end of January to assist with the transition.

Deputy Chief Aaron Noble has been named interim department head as part of the staffing shuffle.

In announcing the agreement, both sides cited medical reasons for 78-year-old Warden’s departure at this time, although health reasons were not cited when he initially was off due to the suspension.

The agreement released last week indicated that the suspension will be erased from Warden’s record.

Warden’s departure after the brief suspension was abrupt, and the deliberations with the selectboard, town manager, and lawyers for both sides caught the community’s attention.

Warden said he found himself on the receiving end of many kind wishes from local residents.

“This kind of support is a testament to the kind of community Shelburne is and why I’ve been proud to be a part of it for 30 years and to work with a department of loyal officers and dispatchers,” he wrote in his message to the community. “However, due to health reasons, it is with bittersweet feelings (that) it is now time to announce my retirement and move on to the next chapter of my life.”

Supporters and friends of the chief plan to gather on the green late Friday afternoon. Organizer Linda Riell said she hopes Warden will attend, along with many who want thank him in person for his 30 years of service to Shelburne.

Before coming to Shelburne, Warden spent 10 years as police chief in St. Albans City. He started his law enforcement career in Pennsylvania, where he was chief for two police departments.

In his time in Shelburne, Warden made many friends in the community as a dog-obedience trainer. He worked with businesses and neighborhood groups on crime prevention and was known to don a Santa Claus suit at Christmastime.

4 Responses to "Outgoing Police Chief James Warden releases statement to Shelburne community"

  1. Tawnya Pell   August 19, 2017 at 1:28 am

    Thank you for your service Chief Warden. When my twin daughters were about 9 in 2007, we rode our bikes from Davis Park toward the Bagel shop north of town, now Brueggers. One of the girls fell off her bike en route, at the bridge over the LaPlatte, and was hard-down. You saw us and called a team member for help, then they drove us to our destination (haircuts at Reflections). You were so kind, and I fell in love with our community all over again that day. We have since (2015) moved back to our home state of California, and I miss our community, including your place in it, to this day. Best wishes to you.

  2. Robbie Mazzoni   August 20, 2017 at 3:06 am

    I want to thank CHIEF JAMES WARDEN for making me a better police officer but most of all a better father, husband, brother, uncle and person. As a young police officer, Jim wasn’t only my police chief, he was like the father I never had. Jim was not only in command of a police department he was also a teacher of young police officers. I started with Jim in Pennsylvania prior of coming to Vermont. Like Jim, I found myself tangled in small town politics where they look for a reason (and not a good one) to excuse you without just cause. It’s amazing that the politicians of these small towns know nothing about police work nor were they ever trained in this type of employment. But they will tell you how and when you should perform your job. And they do this without putting themselves in harm’s way. That’s just great. If the media decides to make you a hero, the politicians take credit for it. And if the media decides to unjustly prosecute you you find yourself standing alone and the politician siding with the media to take the heat off of them. The media try to create a negitive article you have a good chance of loosing your job even if you were clearly justified. The officer that makes that split second decision must act to save his/her life or the life of a innocent bystander. This on the shoulders of that officer. The officer trained to act, then must wonder if the made the right decision after his actions had occurred. When the officer believes they conducted himself in good faith, and if he’s lucky, he won’t have to worry about the local media trying to make a story out of a incident where it would damage or even end his career. Our media of today became very lazy. And by that I mean, they now make news instead of reporting news. The media don’t care who they hurt, who’s lives they damage, what reputation they destroy or even if It’s true. They just want to be the first to report it even if they know it carries no weight. I think we all could agree we know someone that has fall victim of this so called poor journalism. Because they are protected by the fourth amendment and cannot be sued. They don’t even have to revile their source of information. It’s about creating a story that has no merritt! It’s hard being a police officer. I’ve been a police officer for over 30 years. I worked mainly in the field as a undercover county detective where my position included homicide investigations, no knock warrants, purchasing of illegal drugs, controlled buys, confidential informants, crackhouses, opiate (heroin) overdoses, enrty team, S.W.A.T., autopsies ect. If anyone thinks this job is easy you should do what I have done in my career. This position like most police positions is a thankless job. You see, police love doing their job knowing they made a difference in someone’s life. We don’t enjoy handing out traffic tickets, putting drug users (unlike dealers) in jail, DWI ect. But We know if we don’t there will be that careless driver who would take a life of one of our loved ones. And who is there to not only observe the horrific tragity of a fatality but has to live what we observed and how death affects after we clock out. All I have to say is that your Town Manager does not see this. It is the police officer that does. But the Town Manager of Shelburne, like most politicians believe because of the sheepskin he earned in higher education gives him the God given right to hire and fire as he pleases. I will say this, I have a higher education degree but none of that prepares you for the law enforcement road ahead when your dealing with a young Joe Colangelo who thinks his sheepskin is above and beyond a 30 year veteran of your police department. I’ve worked with people who had extensive educations. And believe me, I wouldn’t want some of them doing a entry on one of my search warrants. Street smarts, experience and a having your partners back cannot be taught. Your either born with it in your blood or you simply don’t have it. All the education in the world cannot teach you about survival. My reward was getting a drug user help and making him or her turn there life around giving them self worth. This is the thinking of a good police officer. Jim Warden has this gift. No police officer wants to go out like Shelburne’s town manager is forcing Chief Warden out. And what’s the reason? Because he believes Jim’s time is up! Knowing Jim, all I believe needed to be done was Colangelo should of sat down with Jim and said, “I Would like to bring in a new Chief”. A deal could of been worked out without degrading, insulting and embarrassing a great man who gave so much to his community. All the hard work this man has done and this is the thanks he gets from a town manager that had his job go to his head! Well if karma exists Mr. Colangelo I hope you feel the pain you has instilled on the former Chief of Police of Shelburne. I hope the town’s people (and i mean “The Town’s people” not the town manager’s town) of Shelburne take a stand on this issue. Town Managers are a dime a dozen but a man like Jim Warden comes along once in a lifetime!!

    • Dorothy Sawyer   August 24, 2017 at 8:49 am

      A wonderful, well-presented “story” about Police in general, and our Chief in particular.!
      I am thankful someone wrote it, and that the News published it. I also believe this whole sad event could have been handled in a far better manner. Direct talk between the parties may well have avoided what
      has now become a “mark” on both the Chief’s 30 year career, AND on the Town’s ability to
      professionally and properly resolve human resource issues. May this become a “Teachable
      Moment” for the Administration.

  3. Robbie Mazzoni   August 20, 2017 at 3:10 am

    See if the Shelburne News will disclose this statement without editing. This page has already been pasted and copied. If it is taken down I will make my own page to make sure the people of Shelburne knows what was edited and how the press denied the luic of selective media!


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