ST. ALBANS TOWN, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s a new sheriff in the town of St. Albans.
Just last week, the town switched its patrols from the St. Albans City Police to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
“The policing service is important, and it’s an important part of this contract and it isn’t just a law enforcement contract,” Town Manager Carrie Johnson said.
This is now the seventh town the sheriff’s office has jurisdiction in and there will be two deputies designated to the town. They say because of this, response times should be quick.
“We won’t be policing the city, just the town, so our response time should be depending on where the deputy is when they get the call and then the time to get there,” Franklin County Sheriff Roger Langevin said.
Aesthetically, there will be some changes, like different cruisers and officers.
“The biggest change is likely to be Franklin County Sheriff’s Office cars, cruisers, trucks, whatever they happen to be driving in the town instead of city police which were black and whites. I think that’s the biggest change visually. We are a small community, so we all know each other. I think they are going to be ready for that, but I hope everyone is aware of what is going on,” said Johnson.
But when it comes to service, Johnson says not much is changing.
“It’s a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week contract. They have complete jurisdiction, so we are completely covered,” said Johnson.
But what they are really excited about is rolling out new and updated services.
“One is a mental health program to responding to individuals who are experiencing mental health issues or are in a crisis,” said Langevin.
“Bringing a three-phased mental health program to the community of St. Albans and other communities that we support,” said Capt. John Grismore.
Grismore says the three phases are: taking care of the department’s own mental health, raising the skill sets of all deputies not just the response team, and creating a crisis response team.
“So a team that’s going to have specialized training, specialized skill sets to be able to respond in the field at a moment’s notice that can respond to someone that is in a crisis,” said Grismore.
Both the city police and sheriff’s office bid on the contract. The sheriff’s office came in just under $1 million cheaper over five years. But Johnson said it wasn’t about the funds, it was about the services offered going forward.
“What led us in the direction of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was their programs and expanded programs in mental health actually,” said Johnson.
So far there is no timeline to when the new services and programming will be rolled out officially, but the sheriff’s office say it is very soon.
Johnson says she will be meeting with the management team at the sheriff’s office monthly, so if there are any concerns to reach out to her, especially in the early days of the transition.
Johnson also wants to remind residents that any personal police numbers residents have had should no longer be used; 911 is the go-to number.
Report by Kevin Gaiss of WCAX. Link to original story here.