BRATTLEBORO -- When it comes to policing Windham County, State Police Lt. Paul Favreau says communication is key.
"We want two-way communication," Favreau said about his "rural police strategy" initiative that thrives on getting input from the citizens throughout the county.
Favreau is more than five months into his new role as station commander for the State Police Brattleboro Barracks, which is responsible for 13 towns in Windham County. Though he was appointed commander in May, he has served the barracks, on and off, for about 10 years.
The State Police asks the community for assistance in determining what to focus their police efforts on. Favreau hopes this will help point out relevant quality-of-life issues, such as places where cars speed that the police may not be familiar with and other incidents that interfere with public safety. Concerns of the public help to make the State Police aware of situations that have not yet been addressed.
That's where the "rural police strategy" comes in -- Favreau is attempting to attend more Selectboard meetings and listen to people's problems. From there, his team can investigate the issues presented to them.
"We want to make sure that the information gets back, in reference to what we did about the problem."
Favreau said that the troopers have had a lot of success by tackling problems this way. Smaller concerns that they want to know more about are addressed by meeting with people one-on-one or within small groups.
A program that helped to inform the ‘rural police strategy' was the High Enforcement Action Team. The HEAT program went from July 1 to Sept. 1, which is a venture that grew out of a statewide concern over the increase of fatal accidents that the State Police had seen over the years. The program has been patrolling zones where speeding regularly occurs, and pulling over those who are under the influence.
Part of a different, statewide plan for helping the State Police includes civilians using a tip-line to report suspicious or criminal activity. People can now send information about possible crimes through text message and remain anonymous if they choose. To send a text message about a crime: text CRIMES --274637 -- to keyword: VTIPS.
There is a website at vtips.info that has a form that can be filled out, as well.
To see what has be done about a particular complaint, there is now a way to go online and see how it was handled. There are also apps available for iPhones and other digital devices.
Favreau stresses that these new ways for citizens to help solve crimes do not replace calling 911 or directly calling the barracks for complaints.
In 1990, Favreau began his career at the barracks as a State Trooper. From 1996 to 1998, he was a plainclothes officer and worked as a detective trooper for the barracks, handling sexual assaults and major crimes with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. From 1998-1999, Favreau was a detective trooper with the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force. In 1999, he was promoted to Patrol Commander at the barracks, and worked as a sergeant. In 2003, Favreau took over a unit in the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force, and in 2005, he was promoted to Lieutenant and took over the drug units in the southern half of the state.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org