BELLOWS FALLS -- The commander of the Vermont State Police Rockingham barracks addressed the Rockingham Selectboard on Tuesday to answer questions and promote a new online program that allows citizens to report tips anonymously to the authorities.
With the first item on the meeting’s agenda, Lt. Rick Hopkins told board members about a new program called TipSoft and said anyone can visit www.crimereports.com to alert the police to any useful and relevant information without revealing their identity, though they can if they choose. Tips can also be sent via cell phone by texting CRIMES to 274637 and by calling 911 or the barracks at 802-875-2112.
He said the program also makes it possible for law enforcement officials to determine trends in crime.
Hopkins was quick to stress, however, that crimes in progress should be reported by calling 911, not by going online.
Selectboard Chairman Tom MacPhee mentioned to Hopkins he has heard complaints from residents who say the state police respond to their calls only in life-threatening situations. The commander said that is not entirely accurate, as troopers always respond to serious incidents and try to get to each reported case no matter the severity.
Hopkins said he wants to hear from the public if no response is given to a call. He said he urges citizens to contact him if they feel proper attention is not paid to their
"We’ve got to hear from people because we have thousands of residents out there that are our eyes and ears, telling us, ‘Hey, this is a problem,’" he said. "I answer every e-mail. I answer every voicemail. Š We are here to serve the public.
"I actually don’t get [much] feedback," he added.
Hopkins said he reviews every case that goes through the department, which is about 100 a week.
In other business:
-- With the sixth item on the agenda, Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen gave board members an update on the replacement of the Bartonsville Covered Bridge, which was destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
"We are about as close to being on track as we could be," he said. "We’re maybe a week behind where the preliminary timeframe looked like. They are making very good progress on it."
-- In his manager’s report, Cullenen said Phase II of the Brockways Mills Road project seems to be on track and on budget.
"It is about 95 percent completed," he said. "There is still some side-grading to be done and a few stretches of guard rail need to be installed. For all intents and purposes, it is over and, knock on wood, we’re going to be slightly under budget."
-- Cullenen said a group called Ruckus, a Brattleboro-based circus troupe, will perform a live event at the Bellows Falls Opera House on Thursday.
"It’ll be excellent for families," he said.
-- Vincent Cherico was appointed to the Rockingham Zoning Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission for the unexpired term running until April 15, 2013.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.