Rep. Hashim resigns from Vermont State Police
DUMMERSTON — The Vermont Legislature will no longer have an active member of the Vermont State Police in its ranks.
Rep. Nader Hashim, D-Dummerston, said Wednesday he has submitted his letter of resignation to the state police after he was denied a residency waiver so he could remain living in his legislative district.
Hashim, 30, who was elected last November to the two-member district that represents the towns of Dummerston, Putney and Westminster, said he gave his two week notice to the state police on Monday. He had been a trooper for seven years, and was on an unpaid leave while the Legislature was in session.
Hashim, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he had requested the residency waiver after he transferred from the Westminster barracks to the Royalton barracks so that he wouldn't have a conflict covering his constituents. He said troopers are eligible to receive waivers to the residency requirement, since his new posting would require him to live in Windsor County "anywhere from Springfield north" but that it would remove him from his legislative district and constituents.
Hashim said in a telephone interview from the State House that he felt he had a good case for a legal challenge to the denial, but that he decided he didn't want to put the time, money and energy into a legal fight over the issue, nor did he want to alienate the state police. He said the Vermont State Troopers Association told him he didn't have grounds for a grievance since the matter wasn't addressed in the general bargaining agreement.
Adam Silverman, spokesman for the Vermont State Police, said the residency requirement was included in the contract with the Vermont Troopers Association because of safety concerns.
"Public safety is a paramount concern for the Vermont State Police," Silverman wrote in an email. "Troopers are on call overnight (generally from 2 a.m. to 7-8 a.m.) and are required to respond to emergencies. The residency requirement exists so on-call troopers can respond in a timely manner, and having troopers live several hours away from their duty station can risk jeopardizing public safety.
"The Vermont State Police is willing to work with our members when possible to balance their desire to serve in the Legislature with the needs and requirements of the department," he added.
Hashim had raised some eyebrows by taking public stands against official positions taken before the Legislature by his superiors, but he said he was not pressured by his police supervisors to change his positions.
He said he sponsored two pieces of legislation that went directly against the stated priorities of the Department of Public Service — on the issue of saliva testing for drugged driving suspects, and the discrimination (behavioral analysis) of buprenorphine, which is one of the prescribed treatment options for opioid addicts.
"The opioid crisis is more than a law enforcement issue, it's a health issue," said Hashim. He said the war on drugs is 50 years old "and you can't arrest your way out of it." He said he is a believer in community police "and how (to) bridge the gap between police and the people."
Hashim, who is also one of the few minority members of the 150-member House of Representatives, said he will start reading for the law with the Brattleboro firm of Costello, Valente and Gentry shortly after the Legislature adjourns. Vermont is one of the few states that lets potential lawyers work under a licensed lawyer for several years to learn rather than attend law school.
Hashim moved to Vermont to be a member of the Vermont State Police in 2011 after graduating from Clark University with a degree in political science. He lives in Dummerston with his daughter.
Contact Susan Smallheer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.
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