By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
HARTLAND — There may come a day when the town has local police coverage.
The Hartland Selectboard recently met with Windsor Police Chief Stephen Soares about creating a regional police department. Doing so could cost anything to what the town currently pays to about $250,000 a year for round-the-clock coverage, Soares said.
He said the Windsor Police Department could be flexible if Hartland wanted any combination of state police, constable and local coverage.
“We’re not looking to make any money on it,” said Soares, who is retiring in September. “We just want to be fair and not cost the town of Windsor anything either.”
Hartland currently pays about $60,000 for the Vermont State Police to patrol the town 15 hours a week and it pays $11,000 for a constable to patrol eight hours a week. The Selectboard has previously talked about the significant time it can take state police to arrive to an emergency scene.
“You just don’t know,” said Hartland Town Manager Bob Stacey. “It could be two minutes, it could be 40 minutes.”
Windsor has nine full-time police officers and five part-time who provide full police coverage in Windsor and part-time coverage in West Windsor.
The arrangement with West Windsor went into effect July 1, 2012. It currently costs West Windsor about $85,000 for 20-25 hours of coverage, West Windsor Selectboard chair Glenn Seward said. Windsor police also cover 911 calls in the town 24/7.
“The arrangement has worked extremely well,” Seward said.
Hartland last considered being part of a regional department with Windsor Police in 2011. West Windsor and Weathersfield were also part of the discussion, but Hartland decided not to join because: “We wanted to look at it first,” Stacey said. The town also had a fully trained constable capable of handling police duties.
Hartland Constable James Dow said at a previous Selectboard meeting that the possibility of becoming regional was controversial, with people feeling strongly about the coverage state police can provide.
The Windsor Police Department is about 10 minutes from the center of Hartland.
“We think it builds partnerships and I really believe from my experience it’s an economical move from the town of Hartland so they don’t have to concern themselves with developing a full police department,” Soares said.
Stacey said the town would look at similar coverage to what it currently has, but the board was going to continue discussing all of its options, including contracts with the Windsor County Sheriffs, state police and constable coverage.
“Right now it’s an evolving discussion,” Soares said.