(written by Chief Steve McQueen)
On March 7, 1922 the Village of Winooski Falls became the City of
Winooski. Winooski was the commercial and economic center of the Town of Colchester with a
vibrant French culture and strong textile industry. After incorporating as an independent
City, Winooski continued to have a strong economy and provided a multitude of services to
The first Winooski Police Chief was Charles Barber. Chief
Barber was the Village Police Chief prior to incorporation and was appointed Chief by
Winooski's first Mayor, H. A. Bailey. Chief Barber served the citizens of Winooski for 45
years, 44 of them as its Police Chief from 1912 to 1956 retiring for health reasons at the
age of 75.
The first department consisted of the Chief and two
"regular" officers, serving a population of 1,932 on a budget of $4317.88.
During it's early years, the department patrolled the City on foot or used their own
vehicles. In 1951 the City purchased its first department vehicle, a 1951 Chevrolet.
Over the years the City of Winooski demanded more from its
police department. In 1940 the City Council added a full time officer to help serve a
population of 6,036. In 1948 the City again added a full time officer and up to 11 special
officers. The first organized rank structure was created in 1951. The department consisted
of a Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, 2 Sergeants and a senior officer. During the 1950's, the
department maintained a special police force of 11 special officers, who were supervised
by the full time department.
When Chief Barber retired, Capt. Arthur Gay became the City's
second police Chief. Chief Gay died while in office after only two years as Chief. The
City's third chief was Joe Sprano, who joined the department in 1947. Chief Sprano served
from 1958 until his resignation in 1964.
Capt. Donald Savard was appointed the City's fourth, and
thrid longest serving Police Chief. Chief Savard saw his department increase from five officers
to ten, the purchase of the department's first radio system in 1966 and the establishment
of 24 hour dispatching in 1967, during his tenure. Winooski was a city in transition
during the 1960's and 1970's. Urban renewal allowed Winooski to start re-building. During
this time, the City employed 15 full time officers, 6 of which were funded through the
Winooski Community Development Corporation and H.U.D.
In 1977 the City built a new City
Hall and Police Department. From 1922 until 1977 the department was located in the basement
of the old Congregational Church which was purchased by the City when it was incorporated
as its new City Hall. This building served the City well until it's demolition to make
room for the new building.
Chief Savard retired after 26 years with the department, 12
years as it's Chief. 1976 saw the appointment of Chief Roger Willard. Chief Willard only
served Winooski for three years, but brought "modern" policing to the City. He
established three divisions within the department and clearly defining the responsibility
and authority within each group. Chief Willard established a Detective Division, headed by
a Sergeant a Patrol Division, headed by a Sergeant assisted by two Corporals, and an
Administrative Division, headed by the department Officer Manager. This management
structure continued until 1991 when the Detective Division Commander's position was
Winooski saw several Chiefs come and go from 1976 until 1996.
After Chief Willard, the City appointed Chief Anthony Grassano in 1981. Chief Grassano
came to Winooski from the City of Wayne New Jersey, where he worked for the police
department. Chief Grassano left after three years and Lt. Armand Vallee, a thirteen year
veteran of the department was appointed Chief.
Chief Vallee served from 1984 until his retirement in 1990. Lt.
Gerald Cowhig, a 14 year veteran, was appointed Police Chief, but only served for one year
before leaving for other employment. In November of 1991, Walter Nieliwocki was appointed
Police Chief after retiring as a Sergeant with the Connecticut State Police. Chief
Nieliwocki served for four years resigning in February of 1996. After serving as Interim
Chief, Lt. Steve McQueen, a 13 year veteran of the department was appointed Police
Chief in 1996.
sixteen officers, four dispatchers four civilian employees and three
Code Enforcement Officers serve the City of Winooski on a full-time basis. The
department polices a very diverse community of about 7,500 residents handling over 12,000
calls for service per year. Currently the department provides a minimum of two officer
coverage per shift and 24 hour dispatching for the police department and fire department.
department has several distinct functions in addition to the normal patrol
activity associated with policing. We have
one full-time police officer assigned to the Winooski School District as School Resource
Officers and an investigator assigned to family based incidents. Winooski was the first community in Vermont
to dedicate officers to school based policing, partially funded by a grant from the U.S.
Department of Justice. In addition, a patrol
officer is assigned as an Investigator providing follow-up investigation to criminal
activity within the City.
Winooski Community Justice Center was established under the supervision of the police
department. The Center began accepting
referrals from Vermont District Court and the Winooski Police Department in May 2000. Reparative Boards were formed and trained, using
interested Winooski Citizens to act as Board Members. The Community Justice Center was
established to provide reparative service to the community, conflict resolution/mediation
services to the Winooski Housing Authority, victim services, and supports a 24
hour language line of qualified interpreters. In November of 2004, the Winooski
Police Department established an offender re-entry program supervised by the
Community Justice Center. In designing a re-entry program, it is our goal
that the Winooski Community Justice Center coordinate the provision of a wide
range of opportunities for offenders to return to the community as members who,
given the chance, hold themselves accountable for their actions, be monitored
and provided with supportive services to reduce their recidivism and become
productive and responsible members of society.
The department has 1 Deputy Chief of Police, 1
Staff Sergeant (Patrol
Division supervisor) 3 Sergeants (shift
supervisors) 9 Officers and 3 Code Enforcement officer, who are responsible for the 24 hours policing of the City. They have 5 marked patrol vehicles
available for regular patrol and two unmarked vehicles used by the
Detectives and Code Enforcement Officers.
This page was last updated:
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:59:43 -0500