By MIKE DONOGHUE
An announcement about filling the post of Shelburne Police Chief is expected before the end of the month, according to Town Manager Joe Colangelo.
In an interview Tuesday he explained the process has already quietly begun. A police chief screening committee met for about 90 minutes last Thursday, Colangelo said.
That was the first public mention that a screening committee was even in place. Colangelo acknowledged he never made a public call seeking community members to serve on the advisory committee.
During the Shelburne selectboard meeting on Jan. 9, town resident Linda Riell renewed earlier calls for a police search committee that would have a wide cross-section of community members.
Riell suggested the panel include a high-ranking officer of the Vermont State Police, a selectboard member, someone from the town’s emergency dispatching staff, fire department, rescue squad, and a community member to help with recruitment and selection.
Colangelo responded at the meeting that he has used advisory committees for every hire in the more than three years he has been town manager. He never mentioned that his advisory committee for the chief was in place and would be meeting that week.
He told the Shelburne News it may have been the late hour of the meeting that caused him not to explain a committee was in place.
The committee includes Chris Boyd, a former selectboard member and fire chief; Peter Gadue, former police officer and member of the town ethics committee; Capt. Mike Major of the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department; Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison, president of the Vermont Police Chiefs; Samuel Jackson, of the Vermont chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Town representatives are selectboard Vice Chairman Jerry Storey, Shelburne Police officers Josh Flore and Mike Thomas, and municipal Director of Administration Ann Janda. Colangelo said he also attended the session.
Colangelo said there were no minutes required for the meeting. He told the Shelburne News that he thought the options of having a full search for a qualified chief or promoting from within the department both have merit.
The town of Milton recently advertised and went through a full process to choose a new police chief and the department’s acting chief emerged as the most qualified candidate. Essex recently promoted a captain from within without advertising outside of its police department, making its third straight promotion to chief from within.
In an entry in his weekly report to the community last Friday Colangelo mentioned he would have an announcement “in the very near future.”
Shelburne is seeking a permanent replacement for Police Chief James Warden, who had that role for 30 years until last summer when he and Colangelo had a falling out. Colangelo suspended Warden for three days in mid-July for undisclosed reasons, but the suspension was later withdrawn after Warden signed a retirement agreement that pays him as a “consultant” through the end of January. He has been earning about $80,000 a year.
Deputy Police Chief Aaron Noble has been the acting chief since Warden left.
Prior to coming to Shelburne, Warden served as police chief in St. Albans City for more than 10 years. He started his law enforcement career in Pennsylvania, where he was chief for two police departments.During his career, Warden filled in as acting Shelburne town manager, including one stint of nine months.
Under his tenure, the town’s emergency dispatch center expanded from handling a few departments to serving 32 public safety agencies.
Noble has worked for Shelburne for about 25 years and was promoted by Colangelo last July from corporal to a newly created post of deputy chief. The promotion was part of an effort to develop leadership, succession, and organizational planning throughout all town government departments, Colangelo said at the time.
Noble began his police career spending two years each at the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department and University of Vermont Police before joining Shelburne Police.
CORRECTION: This report was updated with Ann Janda’s correct title.