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In The News

Pownal, sheriff reach agreement on new contract

July 6, 2023

POWNAL - The Select Board has approved a new contract with the Bennington County Sheriff's Office that provides for more nighttime and weekend patrol hours in Pownal.

The board, meeting in emergency session on June 29, just prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, unanimously approved the new annual agreement.

It will be in effect through June 30, 2024, and calls for sheriff deputies to work in Pownal 30 hours per week, at a rate of $65 per hour, unless the town requests additional policing coverage in writing.

Chairman Mike Gardner said the town and Sheriff James Gulley Jr. and his staff had been negotiating for some time, along with prospective attorneys for both parties.

He said during the board meeting that there were no major disagreements holding up the new contract, only a need to work out "legal verbiage" and have it reviewed by attorneys.

"I think that the negotiations back and forth with Sheriff Gulley were very open and very straightforward," Gardner said.

He added, "I think this is a better contract for everyone."

NIGHTS, WEEKENDS

A key talking point, board members said, was to require some designated nighttime and weekend patrolling, which is something townspeople had requested.

Gardner said the contract requires that a minimum of 15 percent of the department hours working in Pownal are during nights or weekends, rather than during normal weekday hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

When those hours will be scheduled could vary and will be up to the sheriff, Gardner said, in part so that there are no publicly known times when there is no deputy patrolling here.

"I think we are in a very good place with the contract we are signing," he said.

Reached on Wednesday, Gulley said, "We want to thank the town of Pownal and its Select Board for renewing their Bennington County Sheriff's Department contract. As always, we are looking forward to serving the Pownal community. Community safety is our priority, and we look forward to responding to their needs." Support our journalism. Subscribe today.

ORDINANCES

In addition, the deputies are expected to begin working with town officials in the enforcement of local ordinances.

The department also reserves the right in the new contract to impose a fuel surcharge to this contract should fuel prices reach $4 per gallon. The department would notify the town in writing 30 days prior to any fuel surcharge.

And the department agrees to work with the town to keep any surcharge at a minimum.

Other provisions in the contract include:


- That patrol activities will primarily concentrate in areas of town "identified and determined to be priority police presence areas by the town and department."

- That the town agrees that any personnel or policy concerns shall be raised with the sheriff or a designee, not with dispatchers, deputies, etc.

- The department shall not be responsible for responding to emergency or 911 calls when a deputy is not on duty in the town.

- The department shall refer all requests for policing outside the scope of services under the agreement to the Vermont State Police or other appropriate agency, "except in cases where an immediate threat to life, safety, welfare, property or animal welfare exists."

- The department may assist other agencies in an emergency within or in close proximity to the town and will request, when needed, assistance from other agencies.

- The department will furnish and maintain all necessary equipment and supplies to perform the law enforcement services.

- Either party can terminate the agreement with 30 days written notice.


Compliments of: The Bennington Banner Jim Therrien