Another year, another annual report. Six years ago I was appointed Police Chief and set a goal of providing effective and innovative policing to the City. During this time, the City has established a model school based policing initiative and created a Community Justice Center/Reparative Board. Both of these initiatives are designed to provide early intervention and effective prevention to reduce the impact of criminal and anti-social behavior on our community.
Winooski continues to be a high needs community. Officers of the Winooski Police Department respond to one of the highest per-capita rates of incidents in the State of Vermont. Due to its transitory nature, it is very difficult for the City and the School District to have a lasting, positive impact on some of the families that move through our community.
The only way to have a positive impact is to coordinate our resources with other services and increase our commitment to early intervention efforts. To achieve this goal, the Winooski Police Department decided to develop a comprehensive safe schools/safe community planning team comprised of key members of our community.
Ten community members attended a weeklong training program conducted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The team consisted of School Resource Officers, Patrol Sergeant, High School and Middle School Principal; school Guidance Counselor, Assistant Director of the Winooski Community Justice Center, the regional Director of Social Services, the Coordinate of Youth Services Training for the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council and the Chief of Police.
As a result of our team planning, the City will be moving towards home based family services and early intervention. One of the School Resource officers will be re-assigned to community based investigations and interventions. The City has committed to staffing the school with a uniformed School Officer Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Both officers will continue with their educational and mentoring initiatives along with our comprehensive summer camp program. It is our intention to increase the home visits by officers to help identify services that families may need. By doing so, we may be able to introduce enough protective factors into the home to help counter the risk factors that children are being exposed to. All children are at risk; the issue for our community is how do we minimize the effect of these risk factors.
These are huge challenges for the members of the Winooski Police Department. Financial resources are very scarce. Prevention is very labor intensive, but the payoff is enormous. We will continue to invest our time and energy wisely to achieve maximum results.
Unfortunately, due to limited financial resources the City decided not to continue funding the departments K-9 program. As a result, Officer Dave Dewy and Kilo left the police department for employment with a neighboring agency. I would like to thank officer Dewey for all of his hard work developing and maintaining the K-9 program and wish him well in the future.
The men and women of the Winooski Police Department are dedicated professionals who do their best to provide quality-policing services to our community. It is a difficult job, but we are more than up to it. Please visit our web page at www.winooskipolice.com to see what we are up to and take advantage or our feed back page to comment on our services.
(Steve McQueen, Chief of Police)