“All certified police officers have law enforcement authority throughout the entire state”

By | July 29, 2020
Please read this email question & answer between my wife and Richmond Sergeant Kyle Kapitanski. As the Policy & Policing group discussed on 7/28, it’s a sensible law to have in a small state – so e.g. when Richmond’s current police force of 2 can’t respond to a call, neighboring departments or VSP can step in. But it does create a loophole where any policy we enact in Richmond (including No Más Polimigra) limits only Richmond officers and doesn’t stop other officers from carrying out their work within our town limits.
Kyle –
Welcome & thanks for the FPF outreach!
I had been meaning to reach out and ask about Williston police cars in Richmond. Do we ever hire police coverage from the Williston (or other town) departments to help with coverage gaps? Would those officers be using Williston or other town police cars (reasonable precaution given the current covid situation)? My inquiry was prompted by seeing a car pulled over by a Williston police officer on East Main St. headed towards Richmond village & Williston (so unlikely something that started in Williston & didn’t finish until Richmond) around 7:15am on Thursday, July 16th. It totally seemed to be a calm and normal traffic stop except that it was a Williston police car. Given the current discussions regarding police practices and norms it got me wondering about how much of a presence members from neighboring police departments have in Richmond and how that influences those discussions.
Obviously a very low priority item (took me 2 weeks to send this email), but if you have a chance I’d be interested in better understanding the current practices regarding authority of police officers from neighboring towns in Richmond.
Thanks & welcome again! (and congrats on the acting police chief role – I’m sure you were selected as a compliment to your experience & leadership skills)
Laura Silverstein
Thank you for the kind words, Laura!
This is probably an easier conversation to have in person or on the telephone, which I would be happy to do, but I’ll do my best to summarize it here concisely. Richmond does not hire any other law enforcement agencies to help with coverage gaps. When there is not a Richmond Police officer on duty then, by statute, the Vermont State Police assumes primary law enforcement responsibility. The Williston Police Department also comes to Richmond to assist us occasionally, but they are under no obligation to do so.
Since I don’t have personal knowledge of the specific traffic stop pictured in your email, I can only offer you a very educated guess on what was happening. The most likely scenario is that the Williston Officer was participating in a grant funded highway safety campaign. Currently, most Chittenden County agencies have funding for Seat Belt, DUI, and Distracted Driving enforcement patrols. These patrol events are county-wide and there is nothing in the grant that requires officers/deputies/troopers to stay in the coverage area of their agency. Since Vermont has a multi-jurisdictional police academy, all certified police officers have law enforcement authority throughout the entire state. The other possible scenario is that the officer was in Richmond for a specific purpose, and witnessed that vehicle committing a violation egregious enough that the officer felt that he/she needed to take enforcement action.
I hope that helps a little bit and I’m happy to answer any other questions or simply have a conversation if you would like. Thanks again.
Sergeant Kyle Kapitanski
Richmond Police Department