By Luke Baynes
Todd Shepard, deputy police chief for the city of South Burlington, has signed a conditional offer of employment to become the next Williston police chief.
Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire made the announcement Tuesday in a press release.
“I believe Mr. Shepard has the leadership skills, experience, and personal qualities that our department needs to move forward in a positive direction,” McGuire stated in the release. “Mr. Shepard will be a valued addition to our management team.”
McGuire told the Observer on Tuesday that Shepard’s employment is contingent on a background check by an outside investigator. He said that while the terms and conditions of employment have yet to be negotiated, Shepard would likely be offered a salary on the higher end of the advertised $54,410 – $78,168 range for the position.
Shepard, 48, has served as deputy chief of the South Burlington Police Department since 2005. A native Vermonter, he worked briefly for the Milton Police Department before joining the SBPD in 1985. He was also chairman of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council from 2007-2009 and has served on the Milton Selectboard since 2010.
Shepard said he had been contemplating retirement before the Williston police chief position became available.
“I guess I’m just not ready for retirement,” Shepard said. “Working next door to Williston for as long as I have, I’ve just seen the town grow and I just realized the potential opportunities for the growth of the department.”
Shepard joins a department that has been beset by internal strife in recent years, as outlined in a May 2011 internal investigation report by former Burlington Police Chief Thomas Tremblay. Shepard said he hopes to bring a stabilizing presence to the department.
“It’s been very unfortunate that two of their permanent chiefs have gone out for medical reasons, and they’ve had the misfortune of having a lot of interim leaders in the organization, and I think that plays some part in some of what’s been going on over there,” Shepard said. “I think that just being given the opportunity to come in and lend some stability to the organization might help out.”
The police chief search process began almost immediately after former Williston Police Chief Roy Nelson resigned on Jan. 23. Nelson’s announcement came seven months after he took an indefinite leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment.
McGuire said he received more than 70 applications for the position. The runner-up was Robert Stafford, the former chief of the Milton Police Department, who is currently a captain with the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council.
McGuire said he and Shepard have discussed a tentative start date of Aug. 20, contingent on the successful completion of the background check and the negotiation of an employment agreement.