A Vermont Village Disbands its Police Force

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The police force in the small town of Randolph, Vt., was like something out of an old black-and-white folksy movie. Officers walked a beat on Main Street where everybody knew their names. They handed out candy on Halloween. They visited schools. They broke up fights. And if you drove drunk after a rough Friday night, they locked you up. One by one over the last year, the local police force has drifted away. Simple economics may mean it’s not coming back. The blinds are drawn on the old downtown police station, the Boston Globe reports. The village of 2,000 is pondering life without its local cops. The existing police station has exceeded its life expectancy. A new station would cost $800,000 to $1 million. The police cruisers need repairs or replacement. The outside patrols may not have that local feel, but the price is right.

“I think it’s a darn shame that even a small town doesn’t have its own police force,’’ said Harriet Chase, the town’s unofficial historian. “Some of us feel less secure. Yes, the Orange County sheriff’s office does cover us. But it’s not the same.’’ Hillary Leicher, a manager at Chef’s Market, says, “We want to be safe,’’ said Leicher, the mother of a 15-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl. “We want our customers to be safe. And sometimes just seeing [police] there is what keeps you from making those bad choices. Because there’s a presence.’’ That presence — those local cops — are all gone now. Five full-time officers have left since spring, the last one in September. Randolph is 25 miles south of Montpelier. The now-vanished police force cost taxpayers roughly $600,000. The current stop-gap contract with the Orange County sheriff’s office is $287,000.

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