BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn announced Monday that he will be retiring after nearly 28 years of service to the town of Brattleboro.
Wrinn submitted his resignation to interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland and will be handing in his badge and gun on June 27.
"This has been the best 28 years of my life. I am in the state retirement system and I became eligible in March. It's time," Wrinn said Monday. "The department is in really good shape right now. It is running well and it is in great hands. It is time for me to move on."
Wrinn grew up in Connecticut and his family had a vacation home in Halifax that they would use every summer.
He said he always wanted to move his family up to Vermont, and when a position became available with the Brattleboro Police Department 28 years ago he jumped at the opportunity.
Wrinn was hired by the town of Brattleboro in 1986 and worked first under Chief Bruce Campbell.
Wrinn rose quickly though the ranks, assuming the position of sergeant in 1989, captain in 2002, and ultimately chief, which he took over in 2008.
"For the past 28 years I have been working with great men and women, who are professional in every sense," Wrinn said. "This is a great, professional department. It is second to none. It has been an honor to be a part of it through all these years."
"The town is losing a really good man," said interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland. "He has been a strong leader in the department and in the community. He is a joy to work with. He has a great sense of humor and he is really going to be missed."
While the Selectboard has yet to name a new town manager, and Wrinn is scheduled to leave at the end of this month, Moreland said he is confident in the leadership of the department.
"There will be no reason to rush a full time appointment," Moreland said. "At this time there is very strong internal leadership and an internal appointment will be likely."
Moreland also said while Wrinn's leadership in the police-fire facilities discussion will be missed the town will be able to move the project ahead without him.
"Thankfully Captain Fitzgerald has been involved with the planning for the facilities for several years and I am confident we will be able to carry that project forward," said Moreland. "It's never a good time to lose someone like Chief Wrinn. We are going to get that project back on track."
Wrinn admits that he had some reservations about stepping down at this point with the future of the town's police-fire facilities project up in the air.
Wrinn has been intimately involved with the planning and designing of the proposed project and he said he is disappointed that the town still does not have a viable project to replace the outdated and unsafe police and fire stations.
Wrinn said he will be available to help out if the town needs him.
"It's disappointing that we have not broken ground yet but that's not the reason I am leaving," he said. "The people have spoken. I'm sure the police-fire committee will regroup and come up with a viable option."
"Chief Wrinn has been a hard working, loyal, public servant," Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein said. "He has provided effective leadership for the department and we thank him for his years of service. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
Gartenstein said the Selectboard has not yet discussed Wrinn's resignation, but said he hoped the board will put together a committee to help find the next police chief.
Wrinn said the town and the department have gone through big changes during the almost three decades he has been serving Brattleboro
When Wrinn was hired the department had no computers and now computers and technology are a vital part of the department's day-to-day work.
And crime has changed, as well, he said.
Criminals today are more mobile, Wrinn said.
The typical criminal today is not necessarily from the area and the department must rely more on state and national databases to do its work.
Wrinn said he will probably seek some kind of part-time work as he moves beyond life in the Brattleboro police department.
"I'm going to look for some other way to use my skills to serve the people of Brattleboro and Windham County. I'm not going anywhere," he said. "It's a bittersweet decision, but this is the right time. It's a good move at a good time."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.