The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 1931. Police officers
(a) The legislative body, and in its stead, the town manager, when appointed pursuant to chapter 37 of this title, of a municipality as defined in section 2001 of this title may establish a police department and appoint police officers and a chief of police who shall be a police officer. Such legislative body or town manager may temporarily appoint qualified persons as additional police officers when necessary, or appoint qualified persons as temporary police officers in the event no police department is established, shall specify the term and duties of such officers, and may fix their compensation, which may be paid by the municipality. They shall be sworn and shall hold office during good behavior, unless sooner removed for cause, or in the case of temporary police officers, for the term specified. Such appointment, oath, and removal shall be in writing and recorded in the office of the clerk of the municipality.
(b) The direction and control of the entire police force, except as otherwise provided, shall be vested in the chief of police. If the chief of police is absent or disabled, or if the office of chief of police is vacant, the appointing authority may appoint another officer to discharge the duties of the chief of police.
(c) The legislative body or town manager shall report the creation of a new police department or the elimination of an existing police department to the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council within five working days of the creation or elimination. The report shall include the effective date of creation or elimination, the mailing address for the police department, and the name of the appointed police chief. (Amended 1969, No. 282 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1971, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 14, § 2.)
§ 1932. Negligence of officer; suspension; hearing
(a) Whenever it appears to the appointing authority by its own knowledge or when informed by a written petition signed by one or more responsible persons that any regular officer has become negligent or derelict in the officer's official duty, or is guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer, the appointing authority shall set a date for a hearing before the legislative body upon the complaint, and shall give at least seven and not more than 15 days, written notice to the accused officer stating particularly the complainant, the charges against the officer, and the time and place of hearing. The legislative body may suspend such officer from duty pending a hearing.
(b) The officer is entitled to be represented by counsel, to answer the complaint, and to be heard on the charges. He or she may waive in writing his or her right to a hearing.
(c) The officer may file with the Criminal Division of the Superior Court having territorial jurisdiction of such municipality and with the legislative body, at least 24 hours before the time set for said hearing, a notice of election to have the cause heard before said court. If such notice is duly filed, the Criminal Division of the Superior Court shall set the matter for hearing within ten days from the filing of said notice and shall give at least five days' written notice to the legislative body and the officer of the time and place of hearing. The court shall determine the facts and certify its findings, which shall be final, to the legislative body.
(d) If the legislative body or the Criminal Division of the Superior Court, as the case may be, finds after considering all the evidence offered in such hearing, that the officer is guilty of the charges as offered, the legislative body shall have the power by majority vote to remove the officer or to suspend him or her without pay for a period of time not to exceed 60 days.
(e) Any officer found not guilty of the charges offered against him or her by either the Criminal Division of the Superior Court or the legislative body shall have restored to the officer pay lost through suspension. (Amended 1963, No. 158; 1965, No. 194, § 10, eff. July 1, 1965, operative Feb. 1, 1967; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)
§ 1933. Policy
The provisions of sections 1931-1934 of this title affecting the tenure of such regular police officers and their removal from office shall apply to the chief of police. Such sections shall not apply to any police officer until he or she shall have served continuously for one year. Such sections shall not prevent a legislative body, or the town manager, from reducing the number of regular officers for reasons of economic necessity.
§ 1934. Construction
Notwithstanding any contrary provisions in any municipal charter, the provisions of sections 1931-1933 of this title shall control, unless a municipality has charter provisions providing for tenure of police officers during good behavior with removal only after hearing and for cause.
§ 1935. Powers
Police officers who are employed by a police department established under this chapter or pursuant to charter shall have the same powers as sheriffs in criminal matters and the enforcement of the law and the same powers, immunities, and matters of defense in serving criminal and civil process. The powers granted to police officers under this section may be exercised statewide. (Amended 1971, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 1972; 1973, No. 114; 1987, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. Jan. 26, 1988; 2013, No. 49, § 7.)
§ 1936. Special police officers; qualifications
(a) If the legislative body of a municipality does not establish a police department or appoint a chief of police, temporary police officers appointed pursuant to subsection 1931(a) of this title shall serve under the direction of the legislative body.
(b) Persons appointed as law enforcement officers under the provisions of this chapter, before exercising any law enforcement authority, shall complete a course of training under 20 V.S.A. chapter 151. (Amended 1971, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. July 1, 1972; 1979, No. 57, § 10; 2003, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 85c.)
§ 1936a. Constables; powers and qualifications
(a) A town may vote at a special or annual town meeting to prohibit constables from exercising any law enforcement authority.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, constables may perform the following duties:
(1) the service of civil or criminal process, under 12 V.S.A. § 691;
(2) destruction of animals, in accordance with the provisions of 20 V.S.A. chapter 193;
(3) the killing of injured deer, under 10 V.S.A. § 4749;
(4) provision of assistance to the health officer in the discharge of the health officer's duties, under 18 V.S.A. § 617;
(5) service as a Criminal Division of the Superior Court officer, under section 296 of this title;
(6) removal of disorderly people from town meeting, under 17 V.S.A. § 2659; and
(7) collection of taxes, when no tax collector is elected, as provided under section 1529 of this title.
(c) A constable who is not prohibited from exercising law enforcement authority under subsection (a) of this section may transport a person arrested by the constable for a violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1201 (DUI) to a police department outside the town for the purpose of DUI processing and may complete the processing if he or she has been certified by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council to do so.
(d) A municipal legislative body may vote to allow a constable elected or appointed in another municipality to exercise law enforcement authority in its municipality, provided that:
(1) the constable is not prohibited from exercising law enforcement authority under subsection (a) of this section;
(2) the constable is certified to exercise that level of authority under 20 V.S.A. § 2358; and
(3) the exercise of law enforcement authority is conducted in accordance with policies and procedures adopted by the legislative body establishing the circumstances under which the authority may be exercised. (Added 1991, No. 177 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; amended 1997, No. 57, § 8, eff. June 26, 1997; 1999, No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 27; 2007, No. 195 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. July 1, 2010; 2009, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238; 2013, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 19, eff. July 1, 2015.)
§ 1937. Reciprocal assistance agreements
(a) A reciprocal assistance agreement may be entered into between:
(1) the chief law enforcement officer of a municipality in a county of this State adjacent to a neighboring state, or the sheriff of such a county; and
(2) the chief law enforcement officer of a municipality in an adjacent county of the neighboring state, or the sheriff of such a county.
(b) The authority of a duly authorized and certified municipal law enforcement officer, sheriff, or deputy sheriff in a neighboring state shall extend to a municipality or county in this State if:
(1) reciprocal statutory authority has been granted by the neighboring state to the law enforcement officers, sheriffs, or deputy sheriffs of this State;
(2) a reciprocal assistance agreement under subsection (a) of this section has been executed which sets forth the terms and conditions under which assistance may be requested or rendered;
(3) the agreement is in writing; and
(4) in the case of an agreement by a municipality in this State, the agreement of the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality is approved by its legislative body.
(c) The reciprocal assistance agreement shall constitute authorization for every request for assistance, and for any assistance rendered, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the written agreement, regardless of whether the officer, sheriff, or deputy sheriff is named in the agreement.
(d) In either emergency or nonemergency circumstances, the ranking on-duty law enforcement officer, sheriff, or deputy sheriff may make an oral request for assistance to the ranking on-duty law enforcement officer, sheriff, or deputy sheriff in the responding jurisdiction, subject to the terms and conditions of the reciprocal assistance agreement. The agreement shall state the authority of the responding police officer in such circumstances.
(e) A reciprocal assistance agreement shall remain in full force and effect until terminated by mutual consent of the parties to the agreement, or until ten days after one of the parties has received notification from the other party of intention to terminate the agreement. (Added 1989, No. 92.)
§ 1938. Intermunicipal police services; purpose; agreements
(a) Cities, towns, incorporated villages, the University of Vermont, sheriffs, and State agencies may enter into agreements to provide for intermunicipal police services. Intermunicipal police services include general police services, emergency planning and assistance, task forces, and other specialized investigative units to provide police services within the boundaries of the participating municipalities and counties.
(b) The legislative body of each municipality may authorize the chief of police or other designee to provide police resources for intermunicipal police services. The participating municipalities, sheriffs, and State agencies shall enter into a written agreement, which shall provide for the scope of the mutual services, the powers, duties, and responsibilities of each participant, and the governing authority for officers called for duty under the terms of the agreement. The agreement shall also contain provisions relating to the use of equipment, supplies, and materials during the period of mutual service. Any employee covered by such an agreement shall remain an employee of the donor agency.
(c) Agreements entered into under this section shall not be subject to the requirement of chapter 121 of this title.
(d) Cities, towns, incorporated villages, the University of Vermont, sheriffs, and State agencies may enter into agreements under this section with municipalities in the same or adjoining counties and with municipalities in adjoining states. (Added 1993, No. 42, § 1; amended 2003, No. 121 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 82, 83, eff. June 8, 2004; 2003, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 85d.)
§ 1939. Law Enforcement Advisory Board
(a) A Law Enforcement Advisory Board is created within the Department of Public Safety to advise the Commissioner of Public Safety, the Governor, and the General Assembly on issues involving the cooperation and coordination of all agencies which exercise law enforcement responsibilities. The Board shall review any matter which affects more than one law enforcement agency. The Board shall comprise the following members:
(1) the Commissioner of Public Safety;
(2) the Director of the Vermont State Police;
(3) the Director of the Vermont Criminal Justice Services Division;
(4) a member of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police appointed by the President of the Association;
(5) a member of the Vermont Sheriffs' Association appointed by the President of the Association;
(6) a representative appointed by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns appointed by the Executive Director;
(7) a member of the Vermont Police Association appointed by the President of the Association;
(8) the Attorney General or his or her designee;
(9) a State's Attorney appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs;
(10) the U.S. Attorney or his or her designee;
(11) the Executive Director of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council;
(12) the Defender General or designee;
(13) one employee-representative of the Vermont State Police, appointed by the Director of the Vermont State Employees' Association; and
(14) a member of the Vermont Constables Association appointed by the President of the Association.
(b) The Board shall elect a chair and a vice chair, which shall rotate among the various member representatives. Each member shall serve a term of two years. The Board shall meet at the call of the Chair. A quorum shall consist of six members, and decisions of the Board shall require the approval of a majority of those members present and voting.
(c) The Board shall undertake an ongoing formal review process of law enforcement policies and practices with a goal of developing a comprehensive approach to providing the best services to Vermonters, given monies available. The Board shall also provide educational resources to Vermonters about public safety challenges in the State.
(d) The Board shall meet no fewer than six times a year to develop policies and recommendations for law enforcement priority needs, including retirement benefits, recruitment of officers, training needs, homeland security issues, dispatching, and comprehensive drug enforcement. The Board shall present its findings and recommendations in brief summary to the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary annually by January 15.
(e) The Board shall examine how individuals make complaints to law enforcement and suggest, on or before December 15, 2012, to the Senate and House Committees on Judiciary what procedures should exist to file a complaint. (Added 2003, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 85e; amended 2005, No. 71, § 81a; 2011, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2011, No. 139 (Adj. Sess.), § 19, eff. May 14, 2012; 2013, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 9.)
§ 1940. Special investigative units; boards; grants
(a) Pursuant to the authority established under section 1938 of this title, and in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, investigative agencies, victims' advocates, and social service providers, the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs shall coordinate efforts to provide access in each region of the State to special investigative units which:
(1) shall investigate:
(A) an incident in which a child suffers, by other than accidental means, serious bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021; and
(B) potential violations of:
(i) 13 V.S.A. § 2602 (lewd or lascivious conduct with child);
(ii) 13 V.S.A. chapter 60 (human trafficking);
(iii) 13 V.S.A. chapter 64 (sexual exploitation of children);
(iv) 13 V.S.A. chapter 72 (sexual assault); and
(v) 13 V.S.A. § 1379 (sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult); and
(2) may investigate:
(A) an incident in which a child suffers:
(i) bodily injury, by other than accidental means, as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021; or
(B) potential violations of:
(i) 13 V.S.A. § 2601 (lewd and lascivious conduct);
(ii) 13 V.S.A. § 2605 (voyeurism); and
(iii) 13 V.S.A. § 1304 (cruelty to a child); and
(3) may assist with the investigation of other incidents, including incidents involving domestic violence and crimes against vulnerable adults.
(b) A special investigative unit organized and operating under this section may accept, receive, and disburse in furtherance of its duties and functions any funds, grants, and services made available by the State of Vermont and its agencies, the federal government and its agencies, any municipality or other unit of local government, or private or civic sources. Any employee covered by an agreement establishing a special investigative unit shall remain an employee of the donor agency.
(c) A Special Investigative Unit Grants Board is created, which shall comprise the Attorney General, the Secretary of Administration, the Executive Director of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs, the Commissioner of Public Safety, the Commissioner for Children and Families, a representative of the Vermont Sheriffs' Association, a representative of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police, the Executive Director of the Center for Crime Victim Services, and the Executive Director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. Special investigative units organized and operating under this section may apply to the Board for a grant or grants covering the costs of salaries and employee benefits to be expended during a given year for the performance of unit duties as well as unit operating costs for rent, utilities, equipment, training, and supplies. Grants under this section shall be approved by a majority of the entire Board and shall not exceed 50 percent of the yearly salary and employee benefit costs of the unit. Preference shall be given to grant applications which include the participation of the Department of Public Safety, the Department for Children and Families, sheriffs' departments, community victims' advocacy organizations, and municipalities within the region. Preference shall also be given to grant applications which promote policies and practices that are consistent across the State, including policies and practices concerning the referral of complaints, the investigation of cases, and the supervision and management of special investigative units. However, a sheriff's department in a county with a population of fewer than 8,000 residents shall upon application receive a grant of up to $20,000.00 for 50 percent of the yearly salary and employee benefits costs of a part-time special investigative unit investigator, which shall be paid to the department as time is billed on a per hour rate as agreed by contract up to the maximum amount of the grant.
(d) The Board may adopt rules relating to grant eligibility criteria, processes for applications, awards, and reports related to grants authorized pursuant to this section. The Attorney General shall be the adopting authority. (Added 2005, No. 83, § 12; amended 2005, No. 192 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 26, 2006; 2009, No. 1, § 52a, eff. March 4, 2009; 2009, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § E.206; 2009, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 2015, No. 60, § 15.)
§§ 1941-1942. Repealed. 1971, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. July 1, 1972.
§ 1943. Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board
(a) Board. An Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board is created within the Department of Public Safety to advise the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Commissioner of Public Safety on issues involving the cooperation and coordination of all agencies that exercise animal welfare responsibilities.
(1) The Advisory Board shall be composed of the following members:
(A) the Commissioner of Public Safety or designee;
(B) the Executive Director of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs or designee;
(C) the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets or designee;
(D) the Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife or designee;
(E) a member appointed by the Governor to represent the interests of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns;
(F) two members appointed by the Governor to represent the interests of organizations dedicated to promoting the welfare of animals;
(G) a member appointed by the Governor to represent the interests of the Vermont Police Association;
(H) a member appointed by the Governor to represent the interests of dog breeders and associated groups;
(I) a member appointed by the Governor to represent the interests of veterinarians; and
(J) a member to represent the interests of the Criminal Justice Training Council.
(2) The Board shall elect a chair and a vice chair, which shall rotate among the various member representatives. Each member shall serve a term of two years. The Board shall meet at the call of the Chair. A quorum shall consist of six members, and decisions of the Board shall require the approval of a majority of those members present and voting.
(c) Duties. The Board shall exercise oversight over Vermont's system for investigating and responding to animal cruelty complaints and develop a systematic, collaborative approach to providing the best services to Vermont's animals statewide, given monies available. In carrying out its responsibilities under this subsection, the Board shall:
(1) identify and monitor the extent and scope of any deficiencies in Vermont's system of investigating and responding to animal cruelty complaints;
(2) work with the Department of Public Safety to study the feasibility of designating one law enforcement agency to receive, dispatch, and document the outcome of animal cruelty complaints and, with the assistance of the Vermont Sheriffs' Association, develop a uniform response protocol for assigning complaints to the appropriate local law enforcement agencies;
(3) ensure that investigations of serious animal cruelty complaints are systematic and documented, and develop written standard operating procedures and checklists to support the objective investigation of cruelty complaints that include objective measures of both environmental and clinical evidence of cruelty;
(4) ensure that requests for voluntary compliance are made in writing, with clear requests and timelines, and include a timeline for the investigator to perform a follow-up visit to confirm actions taken;
(5) develop a guide for animal cruelty prosecution, including a review of current sentencing recommendations for State's Attorneys;
(6) research the feasibility of developing and implementing an animal cruelty prevention and education program for offenders to be used as a part of offenders' sentencing;
(7) explore potential private and public sources of funding for animal cruelty investigations, including animal care expenses;
(8) develop trainings, protocols, procedures, and guidance documents for agencies engaging in animal welfare responsibilities;
(9) develop and identify funding sources for an animal cruelty investigation certification program for humane officers in accordance with 13 V.S.A. § 356, and develop a standard by which a person who has been actively engaged in this State as a humane officer conducting animal cruelty investigations for at least five years preceding July 1, 2017 may become certified without completion of the certification program requirements;
(10) identify funding sources for the training requirement under 20 V.S.A. § 2365b;
(11) develop recommendations for providing liability protection and reducing uncompensated costs to animal shelters and animal welfare groups that assist law enforcement authorities in animal cruelty investigations;
(12) explore changing the annual deadline for dog licensure under 20 V.S.A. § 3582 better to align with the time of year dogs require annual veterinary care; and
(13) determine what should appropriately constitute an enforcement action triggering the obligation of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to assist law enforcement pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 354(a).
(d) Reimbursement. Members of the Board who are not employees of the State of Vermont and who are not otherwise compensated or reimbursed for their attendance shall be entitled to per diem compensation and reimbursement of expenses pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 1010, paid from the budget of the Agency of Administration for attendance of meetings of the Board.
(e) Meetings and report. The Board shall meet no fewer than six times a year to undertake its duties as outlined in subsection (c) of this section. The Board shall report on its findings and specific recommendations in brief summary to the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary, House Committee on Agriculture and Forest Products, and Senate Committee on Agriculture annually on or before January 15. (Added 2015, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)