To the Editor:
I want to respond to the recent article in the Shelburne News regarding the size of the police force in Shelburne and the complex issues that currently confront the department. (“Resident back to ask about police staffing,” Dec. 9, 2021)
As with nearly every aspect of the lives of the members of our community, the past 18 months have been very difficult for the staff and the sworn personnel of the Shelburne Police Department due to the impact of the COVID pandemic. Any trade or profession that has as its core function the face-to-face interaction with the public will be challenged during such stressful times.
I need to address an issue that will not be a surprise to many Shelburne residents — the lawlessness in our community that has taken on new dimensions and intensity in the past several years. The Route 7 corridor north of the village has become an area where significant police resources are in near constant demand. Shelburne is no longer a town where “no one locks their doors.”
With these factors bearing down on us, our department must face a very harsh reality. Neighboring police departments offer starting salaries to its newly sworn officers that are $3 to $5 more per hour than Shelburne presently offers. Staffing problems are not limited to finding qualified new recruits. Our department’s authorized strength level and salary scale does not enable us to recruit and maintain officers and dispatchers.
Therefore, the opportunity for experienced officers for either lateral movement within the department or advancement within our ranks is virtually nonexistent. In the final analysis, I cannot offer experienced officers in the department a wage commensurate with their tenure, training and experience.
I do not fault any of them for leaving to work for other departments that are not so constrained. I am mindful that homeowners in Shelburne are saddled with significant property tax bills, and that any meaningful increase in the police department’s budget would only serve to add to that burden.
I can only express my commitment to the members of our community that I will continue to do all within my power and ability to provide the town with a police department that is devoted to serving, protecting and providing our community with a safe and secure environment for our families.
We are all in this together. As always, my door is open for honest, transparent conversations.
Aaron S. Noble
Chief of police