Tunbridge Approves Expansion of Policing

Credits: Kentucky Law Enforcement

Residents of Tunbridge, Vermont, conducted their town business during a Town Meeting that featured more than four dozen home-baked pies, so plentiful that the leftovers were raffled off for lucky winners to take home.

The meeting, held at Tunbridge Central School, also saw the approval of a $822,600 town operating budget, a $1.2 million highway budget, and $19,576 for social services.

One of the notable discussions during the meeting was about the need for increased policing services in Tunbridge. Robert Childs proposed an amendment requesting additional funds for policing, citing the town’s need for a police officer approximately every 36 hours due to domestic disputes, assaults, and drug-related issues.

Tunbridge and Policing (Credits: WBKR)

Childs explained that the current $10,000 in the town budget for policing services is insufficient, as law enforcement agencies such as the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Windsor County Sheriff’s Department, Royalton Police, and Vermont State Police are often more than an hour away.

The shortage of policing in Tunbridge is partly due to turmoil at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which has experienced an exodus of officers under a new sheriff elected in 2022.

Vermont State Police, which would normally help fill the gaps, is also facing a shortage of troopers, reflecting nationwide difficulties in recruiting law enforcement personnel, especially in rural areas.

To address the policing issue, the Windsor County Sheriff’s Department has offered to provide Tunbridge with about 15 hours of policing per week, with one of the department’s deputies being a Tunbridge resident.

This would help ensure that a law enforcement officer is present at ambulance responses, where EMTs are often in potentially dangerous situations requiring police presence.

Selectboard members Gary Mullen and John O’Brien are in discussions with the Windsor County Sheriff’s Department and the Royalton Police Department about expanding coverage for Tunbridge.

O’Brien estimated that an additional $50,000 would raise the tax rate by about 3 cents, but some residents expressed concerns about tax increases, especially for those on fixed retirement incomes.

Despite the importance of increased policing, residents like Helen O’Donnell emphasized the burden of tax increases, noting that her taxes would go up by $1,000 per year.

Stacy Dion echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the need to address the root causes of crime, such as drugs and domestic abuse, in addition to increasing policing services.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.