Police shootings have been in the national spotlight for years, but has any police officer ever been involved in three fatal shootings in six months?
Vermont State Police Trooper Christopher Brown is now in that position, after a shooting last month on Interstate 89 in Bolton. Brown and a Richmond police officer both shot a distraught man who was pointing a gun to his own head and walking toward the officers, ignoring their orders to put down a Mac 10 pistol.
The month before, as a member of the state police tactical team, he and eight other officers shot at a bank robber who ran onto the soccer field at Montpelier High School. The robber was killed. In September, also as a member of the tactical team, Brown was involved in a fatal shooting in Poultney. And in 2015, he was involved in a shooting in Fayston, but the person survived. Brown’s actions were cleared by investigators in the Poultney and Fayston cases; the Montpelier case is being reviewed, as will the Bolton shooting.
It’s remarkable enough for Vermont State Police to have three fatal shootings in six months; it’s almost beyond belief that one officer could be involved in all three.
Brown could just have been in a difficult spot, and all this is coincidence. Certainly, as a member of the tactical team, he was sent into the toughest situations. But three fatal shootings in half a year?
To its credit, the state police want to know why this is happening, and whether they’re doing something wrong. The agency has hired a consultant to review its policies and procedures in such cases. And, after a legal review, police plan to release the video taken from the two police cruisers in Bolton, and the Richmond officer’s body camera, so people can see for themselves what happened.
Brown himself has been placed on leave because “I worry about Trooper Brown and the impact that this is having on him,” said Col. Matthew Birmingham, director of the state police. If we’re wondering what happened, and why, what must Brown be thinking, and feeling?
“These individual incidents are looked at independently of each other, not collectively,” Birmingham said, “because lethal force is a justification point that occurs in a split-second of time.”
It’s both wise and necessary for state police to find lessons from these events.
Setting a great example
Lamoille County Mental Health in Morrisville helped to show the world what inclusion looks like. It was invited to an annual conference in Germany to show off its supported employment program for people with developmental disabilities, which is working extremely well.
The agency has moved people out of sheltered workshops — separate from the regular workforce — and into the workplace. Of the 50 people in the program, 44 hold part-time jobs.
The idea is that people with disabilities should be treated just like anybody else — integrated into the community in Lamoille County — whereas in Germany, they are not treated the same.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” said Jennifer Stratton of Lamoille County Mental Health.
Hattie and 1,000
Stowe High School has its seventh 1,000-point scorer in basketball — Hattie Moriarty, who hit the milestone on Feb. 8.
The Stowe High girls are not having a great season, despite Moriarty’s heroics, but listen to what her former coach said about her: “Every coach should have a Hattie Moriarty at least once in their career.”