Town puts out call for new leader
By Jason Starr
The Town of Williston is accepting applications for chief of police after Todd Shepard informed town administrators this spring that he plans to retire in September.
Town Manager Rick McGuire began a national search this month. He has already collected about 40 applications, including one from a current member of the department, whom he declined to identify.
This will be the fourth turnover of the police chief position in Williston in the past 10 years.
Shepard, 54, has been on the job for nearly five years. He recently returned from a three-week medical leave but said his retirement is unrelated. Medical issues forced Shepard’s two predecessors into retirement.
“I’m in my 35th year as a sworn officer, and I think it’s time,” Shepard said.
Shepard plans to stay in Vermont in retirement, spend more time with family and perhaps explore other work options.
“I’ve enjoyed my five years with the department and in the town,” he said. “The town staff is extraordinarily dedicated … I wanted to give plenty of notice.”
McGuire began the hiring process by reviewing the police chief job description and outlining a profile of an ideal candidate. Experience in Vermont law enforcement, and in a community the size and residential/commercial mix of Williston, is desired.
Other traits the town is looking for are: honesty, sound judgment and intellectual ability.
“The community expects the highest level of honesty from its public servants. Nothing less will be tolerated,” the candidate outline states. “In the past, the community has placed a great deal of trust in its departmental leadership, and this trust must be maintained through actions.”
The job announcement lists 5-8 years of relevant law enforcement experience as a requirement. The pay range is listed as $63,800 to $91,700.
McGuire plans to accept applications until the end of April. Along with input from a panel of selectboard members and law enforcement leaders from neighboring communities, he will narrow the field to about a half-dozen finalists by mid-May.
After initial interviews, the top candidates will be chosen for on-site interviews, including a tour of town and interaction with town employees. McGuire hopes to have a new chief hired by the end of July for a scheduled start date of Sept. 1.
The Williston Police Department is also currently looking to fill two other vacancies on its force of 17 sworn officers.
According to the department’s most recent quarterly report to the selectboard, the department is working with other Chittenden County police agencies to organize a countywide officer recruitment event this month.