Oct. 23, 2008
By Marianne Apfelbaum
Overcoming fear of the unknown.
Everyone faces it, and Bill Charbonneau has had to deal with more than his fair share lately. He recently became a first-time father and a full-time certified Williston police officer.
Observer photo by Marianne Apfelbaum
Williston Police officer Bill Charbonneau
Charbonneau contemplated for a moment when asked about the biggest challenge of being a new parent.
“The unknown. Everything is new. It’s kind of a lot of guesswork,” he responded.
The unknown also motivates Charbonneau in his job as a police officer.
“I like how there is always something new, learning something new every day,” he said.
Charbonneau, 27, who grew up in Hinesburg with his parents and two brothers, knew one thing from an early age — he was interested in police work. He graduated from Champlain Valley Union High School and, after a stint working on the grounds crew at Shelburne Museum, decided to enlist in the Marines as a military policeman.
“I chose the Marines because it was supposed to be the most challenging,” he said.
After traveling the world — including Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand — as part of his duties, Charbonneau was ready to return to Vermont.
“I enjoyed what I was doing, but I always knew I’d come home and settle down,” he said.
He moved to Colchester and worked for Dennis White Construction in Williston. He married Kylee Dauphin, and seven weeks ago his daughter Ainsley was born. His daughter’s Irish name, somewhat unusual for parents with French surnames, comes from the discovery of Irish ancestors when his family researched its genealogy. He discovered his mother’s side of the family included the McGarghans, and his father’s the O’Briens. He also found ties to the town he now serves. His relatives “actually owned the O’Brien Farm in Williston,” he said.
About a year ago, Charbonneau decided he missed his work as a police officer, and began applying to local departments. Williston hired him as a part-time officer, and he recently completed his full time certification requirements at the Vermont Police Academy.
He enjoys the increased freedom that comes with police work outside the strict confines of the military.
“In Williston, I have more freedom within the law to make decisions and not worry about bad repercussions,” Charbonneau said.
That freedom was tested after only two weeks on the job, when he had to respond to a “suicide by cop” call. The station got a call from a man who said he had a gun and “if he saw blue lights or heard sirens, he would shoot himself.”
Charbonneau, who was still in training, had to respond. The man was found in a van in his driveway, where Charbonneau and another officer “took (him) out (of the van) by gunpoint.” As it turned out, the man had no gun and was cooperative. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
“After two weeks on duty, I already had to pull my gun,” Charbonneau said.
But Charbonneau, who has always been told he is a “hard worker, easy to get along with, laid back,” took it all in stride.
“I’m glad to be working in the area I grew up in, where a lot of the names stay the same in town,” he said. “I like that about working in a small town.”