This article by Jim Therrien originally appeared Sept. 10 in the Bennington Banner.
BENNINGTON — Consultants hired to review Bennington Police Department policies and procedures — especially concerning relationships with the community — provided an overview of the four-month study process and their expected concluding report.
The study had been suggested in the wake of former Rep. Kiah Morris’ decision last year to end her re-election campaign, when she and others were critical of the department for not making any arrests concerning her complaints of racially motivated harassment and threats.
A four-person team from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which was hired in August by the Select Board, will oversee the review and assessment process.
Members said during a kickoff presentation Monday that the study will involve at least two extended visits to Bennington to gather input from residents and local groups and organizations, as well as to meet with BPD officers and local officials.
Also planned are multiple initiatives to gather comments from residents and groups and collect survey responses — both during public meetings and forums and in ways that will protect the identity of the person or group providing information or registering complaints.
One member of the study team is well known locally and in Vermont. James Baker, of Arlington, a former Vermont State Police trooper in the area and later VSP director, also has served as the Vermont Police Academy director and as police chief in Manchester and in Rutland.
Baker, one of the study’s subject matter experts, said he has also worked with the nonprofit IAPC’s executive staff at the organization’s main office in Alexandria, Virginia.
He said the nonprofit organization, with 30,000 members in 150 countries, has become a leader in the field of law enforcement review and in developing law enforcement training materials.
Read full article at the Bennington Banner.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)