Op-Ed — Town manager announces pick for Shelburne’s next police chief

I am pleased to announce that Aaron Noble has accepted the job of police chief for the town of Shelburne. Aaron’s new professional adventure starts today, Feb. 1.

Chief Noble has worked for Shelburne’s Police Department for more than 25 years. In 1995, he was promoted to corporal. In July, he assumed the role of deputy chief of police and then acting chief of police. Prior to his arrival in Shelburne, Chief Noble gained law enforcement experience at the University of Vermont and the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department.

Throughout his tenure in Shelburne, Chief Noble has established strong relationships by acting as a liaison between the police department and the Shelburne Community School. Chief Noble has also supervised tactical operations within the department for the past seven years and has served as an instructor for the Vermont Police Academy for over a decade.

As acting chief of police for the past six months, Aaron and his team have pushed the department forward on many fronts. Policies and procedures were updated, a new cruiser rotation implemented, the police department’s annual budget was organized and well-presented, and new body-camera/taser technology units were integrated by every member of the department.

Additionally, a number of high-profile events such as the Wake Robin ricin incident, the alleged attempted murder and machete attack at Harbor Place, and the alleged shooting and drug deal involving high school-aged students at the Spear Street mobile home park were all handled with the highest level of competency.

Chief Noble has a big vision for the future of the Shelburne Police Department. He understands Shelburne’s budget constraints will require manpower and equipment to be utilized more efficiently. Chief Noble aims to provide department personnel promotional opportunities as well as the ability to explore more specialized police work.

Like he did by implementing state-of-the-art body camera/taser mechanisms for department personnel, Chief Noble plans to utilize modern technologies when practical to collect better data and keep the public and Shelburne law enforcement personnel safe.

He is also fully committed to non-biased policing methods and promoting a philosophy within the department grounded in recommendations from the 2015 federal Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Chief Noble and I hold former Police Chief James Warden in high regard and we want to help bring the community together by celebrating Chief Warden’s legacy.

Aaron is a Shelburne resident, a native Vermonter, and a graduate of Colchester High School where, as a teenager, he worked at Dick Mazza’s General Store. He attended Champlain College with the original goal of going into education before shifting to a career in law enforcement.

Prior to promoting Aaron into the permanent role of police chief, I received solicited and unsolicited feedback regarding Aaron’s capabilities and how the hiring process should be handled. Opinions about Aaron’s capabilities were nearly unanimous: He is widely considered a star within the law enforcement community. The decision to promote Aaron without specifically considering other candidates was primarily based on the following six factors:

First, the town charter is clear – the authority to appoint the chief of police rests squarely with the town manager. For good measure, the selectboard unanimously passed a motion on Jan. 9, confirming this authority. Further, the personnel manual provides the town manager with the flexibility to advertise internally and externally to fill a position, as well as the ability to promote from within without utilizing a search. All applicable ordinances, policies and procedures were closely followed during this process.

Second, during retreats in 2016 and 2017, the selectboard included ‘succession planning’ for town departments as a priority. When the selectboard approved my three-year contract last year, it set as a goal for my performance to ‘develop and implement succession planning in the police department.’

Third, last spring, the position of deputy police chief was created to start this process of succession planning. We embarked on a rigorous vetting process tailored to identify the most qualified internal candidate for further leadership development. Aaron Noble ultimately was selected out of four highly qualified candidates and he started in that role on July 1.

Fourth, Aaron’s performance as acting police chief was exceptional. If you consider the past six months as one extended job interview, he couldn’t have done better.

Fifth, it’s a common and recognized best practice across the country (on equal footing with a comprehensive search) to select a chief of police in a manner similar to the way Aaron has been selected for Shelburne.

Sixth, I convened a committee of individuals with deep community ties and strong law enforcement and municipal government backgrounds. They felt comfortable with this process as well as the decision to promote Aaron. Furthermore, as always, I kept every member of the Selectboard equally up-to-date with the progress of this decision and made sure that lines of communication were open.

I am confident Aaron will do a superb job in his new role. Please join me in congratulating Chief Aaron Noble for this well-deserved honor of serving Shelburne as police chief.

Joe Colangelo is Shelburne’s town manager.

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