Vergennes P.D. uses innovative police methods

Vergennes has the distinction of being the oldest city in Vermont and the third smallest city in the United States. The city has a total area of 2.5 square miles of which 2.4 square miles of it is land and 0.1 square mile of it encompasses water. The post-industrial, boutique community of Vergennes is best known for its pivotal role in the maritime history of the War of 1812-15 and its quaint Victorian-style homes. But the Little City on the Falls has not been left behind in the 19th century; it is fortunate to possess a 21st century police department headed up by an innovative community leader, Chief Mike Lowe. Lowe and fellow Vergennes police officers bring considerable experience and knowledge to the task of urban, suburban and rural law and enforcement in the small, but varied Addison County community. Lowe is supportive of letting his Vergennes police officers explore various innovative methods in the field of police science. For example: Sgt. Pat Greenslet, has been with the VPD since 1999. He and others on the force helped initiate a program in 2000 to promote driver safety and reduce accidents in the city. Called SHARP, short for Safe Highway Accident Reduction Program, the effort is funded by the Vermont Governors Highway Safety Program. The program remains in force during peak hours in Vergennes; however, its also used at random times throughout the year. The SHARP effort in Vergennes is responsible for generating $17,000 in revenue, educating motorists, and positively impacting the community in various ways. Over 230 work hours of SHARP-related patrols have been expended in Vergennes for the prevention and apprehension of offenders. Approximately 460 stops were by police with numerous violations issued last year including 82 for speeding, with nine arrests over and above the SHARP program goals. According to Lowe, there was an additional program separately funded by the statea special holiday program in December for DUI. Forty-five additional work hours were implemented on saturation patrol. Just during Christmas season 2007, the VPD set up three checkpoints which resulted in 17 screenings for DUI that resulted in two arrests. The total amount of motorists stopped at these Vergennes-area checkpoints was 1,051; 480 vehicles stopped; and 42 vehicles stopped on routine radio motor patrol.

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