Statement of Newport, Vt. Police Chief Seth DiSanto Regarding School Resource Officer

Newport Police Department
Chief Seth C. DiSanto
222 Main St.
Newport VT 05855

newport-vt-patchFor Immediate Release

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016

News Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 802-332-6821
Email: [email protected]

Statement of Newport, Vt. Police Chief Seth DiSanto Regarding School Resource Officer

NEWPORT, Vt. — Police Chief Seth DiSanto reports that the Newport Police Department, faced with having to cut one of its three specialty officers, has suspended its School Resource Officer (SRO) position. However, Chief DiSanto is currently working with other law enforcement partners to come up with a creative solution to maintain the program.

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.

The realignment is no reflection on the importance of the position or of the great work of Senior Patrol Officer Lancaster. This program has been a marked success story and has demonstrated the positive relationships that have been built between the police and the community.

“This was a very difficult recommendation to make particularly after having campaigned alongside former Chief of Police Paul Duquette to implement the program,” Chief DiSanto said. “However, we are working with our law enforcement colleagues on helping transition this program to a new chapter which will allow us to continue our focus on Community Policing as one of our major priorities.”

“I deeply apologize for the timing of this announcement, but we have to respond to an unpredictable and rapidly evolving climate,” Chief DiSanto said.