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Brattleboro Police Capt. Mark Carignan gives a high-five to Braxxon Anderson, 3, before the start for the Strolling of the Heifers parade in 2018.

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BRATTLEBORO — Mark Carignan, a captain and longtime member of the Brattleboro Police Department, has retired after 20 years with the force.

“We sincerely thank him for his years of service to the town,” states an announcement made by the town Thursday morning.

Carignan said it’s been an honor to serve the people of Brattleboro for the past two decades.

“I have had a full and rewarding career, and after 20 years of public service, I have decided to retire,” he said in a statement. “I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, and dedicating time to other professional and recreational pursuits.”

Police Chief Norma Hardy said no one has been appointed yet to take Carignan’s place.

“We wish Capt. Carignan well in his future endeavors,” she said.

Coming with experience in New Hampshire, Carignan was hired as an officer in Brattleboro in 2002. He was promoted to detective in 2005, sergeant in 2008 and captain in 2014. According to his LinkedIn biography, he has been a criminal law instructor at the Vermont Police Academy for nearly a year and a half.

Late last year, Carignan released his debut novel “Out from Under.” At the time, he said he had been writing fiction for at least 15 years.

“Out from Under” follows a team of detectives in Manchester, N.H., searching for a violent offender named Vincent Underwood.

“Early in a police career, things are simple — there is legal and illegal, right and wrong. Over the years, of course, I found life is much more complex,” Carignan said in an earlier interview, describing the book. “There are gray areas where good people make compromises or outright bad, sometimes criminal choices. Cops are no different, and while we strive to be honorable and do the right thing, we are flawed and subject to the same struggles that the rest of humanity is.”

Carignan’s father was an officer in the Air Force, and the family moved a lot until retirement when the family settled in the Manchester, N.H., area when Carignan was 12. He graduated from high school and went to the University of New Hampshire then he had an internship with the Dover, N.H., Police Department. He was hired by that department after graduating from college in 1996.

In 2000, Carignan left police work for a few years to work in the computer networking business. But he ended up missing law enforcement.

His wife was from the Keene, N.H., area, and Carignan looked for departments in the area. He applied for jobs in Keene and Brattleboro and was hired by the Vermont department.

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In April 2014, then-Sgt. Carignan was involved in a shooting at America’s Best Inn on Putney Road that left Michael Santiago dead. The Vermont Attorney General ruled that Carignan was justified in his use of deadly force in the incident.

Carignan has called the incident “the most traumatic thing that I had to deal with as a police officer.”

“So much of police work is professional,” he said in a previous interview. “We try to maintain a certain amount of professional distance, because on a day-to-day basis we see a lot of traumatic things, and a lot of sad things, and a lot of wonderful things. You try to maintain a professional distance from it, but something like that, how do you maintain a professional distance from having taken another human being’s life? You can’t.”

In 2019, former Brattleboro Police Officer Penny Witherbee and the town settled a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination for $35,000. Carignan said Witherbee’s decision to dismiss him from the case showed allegations made against him were false.

When Michael Fitzgerald stepped down as chief at the end of 2020, Carignan served as interim chief until Norma Hardy was hired in July. As interim chief, Carignan led an effort to change the shift system to help with low staffing levels and participated in meetings that led to the Community Safety Review Final Report.

Carignan also is known for being a big supporter of Turning Point of Windham County, a recovery center based in downtown Brattleboro. Suzie Walker, executive director of the center, recalled meeting him in 2016 or 2017 when a prevention coalition held training at Turning Point.

“It was during a time we were trying to work more closely with the police and first responders generally to help them understand people with substance use disorder and what it means to be in recovery and all that good stuff,” Walker said.

In late 2017, Carignan joined the board at Turning Point. For two and half years, he served as the board president.

“He’s been really active on our board,” Walker said, describing him as “a good connection” for her group’s Project CARE (Community Approach to Recovery and Engagement) work, which involves outreach and steering local residents into recovery at their own pace. “He really understands how to support people who live with substance use disorder and have other vulnerabilities. He’s strongly in favor of a more community policing model, than lock ‘em up and throw away the key model.”

Carignan is “good with people generally and talking about complicated issues,” Walker said. “He’s been a great ambassador for Turning Point and our work. I look forward to seeing what he’s doing next and his next book and whatever might come next for him as he leaves the Police Department. I’m sure that’s going to be a change for them as well.”

Select Board member Tim Wessel said it’s been a pleasure to work with Carignan.

“I thank him for 20 years of service to Brattleboro,” he said. “I wish Mark luck with whatever comes next with his career.”