Chief Seth C. DiSanto
222 Main St.
Newport VT 05855
Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016
News Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Newport Police Chief Seth DiSanto to Answer Questions about School Resource Officer Position at Community Commons Tomorrow
NEWPORT, Vt. — Police Chief Seth DiSanto will be on hand to discuss and answer questions from members of the public regarding the Newport Police Department’s difficult decision to suspend the School Resource Officer position.
Chief DiSanto will attend Community Commons, a monthly grassroots meeting, tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Gateway Center on Fyfe Drive in Newport.
“I am a supporter of the School Resource Officer program, and I feel that it adds great value in improving school safety and building relationships between officers and the public. However, we had to make a difficult decision,” Chief DiSanto said. “We have attempted to assist the school in seeking a creative solution to this situation and have offered a transition and orientation plan. I have talked with other law enforcement agencies about them taking over the position. I understand that members of the public have concerns, and I intend to be transparent and honest. I hope to see and talk with many of our residents at the Community Commons forum.”
Last week, the chief announced that the School Resource Officer (SRO) position was being suspended because the present fiscal climate and staffing realignment was forcing the department to cut one of its three specialized positions.
The SRO role had been filled admirably by Senior Officer Royce Lancaster, who was stationed at North County Union High School during the school year.
The Newport Police Department is typically a 12-member agency, but it is currently running with just nine members, including the Chief of Police. Chief DiSanto, citing the current climate of anti-law enforcement sentiment and an escalating nationwide heroin epidemic, has ordered at least two officers on duty, so that police officers are not walking into situations alone. Newport has followed the national trend that has also been emulated in Burlington, where police departments have suspended single officer patrols as an officer safety issue.
The reallocation of resources, coupled with a tight operational budget, required the Chief to recommend the difficult decision of suspending one of the department’s three specialized positions.
The other two specialized positions are:
• The Drug Task Force Officer responds and works to combat the heroin epidemic and other illegal drug activities, and
• The Special Investigations Unit Detective is responsible for investigating sex crime and domestic violence, with a focus on crimes of violence against children.