Letter: A faulty argument over Arlington safety

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To the Editor:

As a concerned citizen I would like to follow up on the article published in the Bennington Banner on June 21, 2020 regarding cutting the Bennington County Sheriff's Department budget.

I do understand where the board is coming from with the lack of communication between the town of Arlington and the Bennington County Sheriff's Department. This should have been address a long time ago and explained not only the board, but the townspeople as well.

But let's ask the following:

How does the Vermont State Police serve the community better?

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Two of the most recent incidents that occurred in the town, BCSD was first on scene (home invasion and homicide).

Sgt. Wilkins' conflict of interest being on the board in general.

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Many wonder what the Bennington County Sheriff's Department does and what they are capable of. BCSD has several full-time certified officers that are equal to the powers of a Vermont State Trooper which have attended the same exact academy in Pittsford, Vt. The fallacy of the VSP being superior is myth. BCSD officers have been trained how to investigate crimes, vehicle crashes and also enforce motor vehicle laws just the same as any other officer. Of course the State Police is larger, but unlike them the Sheriff's Department officers are dedicated to one on one time to the town they are working.

In the Bennington Banner article, Sgt. Todd Wilkins mentions how nine troopers live in the town of Arlington. Sergeant Wilkins neglected to mention that only a fraction of them work in the coverage area of the Shaftsbury Barracks, so they play no further part in the community just like a regular citizen. So Sergeant Wilkins' statement is inflated and broad at best. Furthermore, while out on patrol, the troopers assigned to the Bennington County area cannot cover the town of Arlington solely, unlike the Bennington County Sheriff's Department. For example, when a call for service is called into their dispatch, they must leave and, for the majority of the time, not return until the end of their shift.

Also the most recent officer involved shooting happened right in Arlington to include the most recent homicide in Arlington. Did nine troopers living in the town stop either one?

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It was left out why the sudden change in heart of having the BCSD patrol the town? It is failed to mention the town hired on a full-time town manager without reserving the funds to pay for the spot, so let's cut the amount of police presence in the town? Shame on the select board for not thinking about their actions before making a decision.

In regards to Sergeant Todd Wilkins' statement, "For me personally, there are nine of us here. I have to personally justify why we're spending taxpayer's money," maybe with his bold statement the town of Arlington should ask what are they getting from the coverage from the Vermont State Police? They cannot solely cover the town of Arlington like the Bennington County Sheriff's Department can.

I would like to close by saying that the Bennington County Sheriff's Department values brotherhood and helping other agencies. It should not be a department versus a department, but rather a unity especially during such trying times in our country.

Ken Abazorius,

Arlington


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