Police chief to retire (11/5/09)

Dimmick thanks community for support after stroke

Nov. 5, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Williston Police Chief Jim Dimmick, who suffered a stroke last year, will step down at the end of the month and retire from police work.


Police Chief Jim Dimmick

Dimmick, 54, gave his resignation letter to town officials last week, said Town Manager Rick McGuire.

“He’s had continued health problems, so this wasn’t unexpected,” McGuire said.

Dimmick’s resignation takes effect Dec. 1.

Dimmick, in an interview at the Observer’s office on Tuesday afternoon, said he’s faced an uphill climb since suffering a stroke in July 2008. While his mental capacities remain unaffected, speaking and communicating are still a challenge. He has trouble finding words when he speaks, but supplements conversation by writing on a notepad.

After working with the department in a limited role over the past few months, he said it became clear he needed to step aside.

“The men and women (in the department), they need a chief to do the job right,” Dimmick told the Observer.

Compared to his condition immediately after his stroke, Dimmick said he’s made drastic improvements. He’s not sure how much more he’ll recover, but he’s happy about how far he’s come.

“My god, it could be worse,” he said. “Right now, I’m very, very good.”

Dimmick joined the Williston Police Department in April 2006 as an interim chief, replacing Chief Ozzie Glidden, who retired due to health reasons. Dimmick was hired as the permanent chief that September.

Before coming to Williston, Dimmick spent 28 years with the Vermont State Police.

Susan Lamb, Williston’s finance and personnel director, said Dimmick has received disability pay since he had the stroke. Once retired, Dimmick will continue to collect his pension through the state police. He was not employed in Williston long enough to receive pension pay from the town.

During Dimmick’s recovery, Sgt. Bart Chamberlain took over as acting chief. Dimmick credits Chamberlain as being an “amazing” chief in his absence.

“Bart is number one,” Dimmick said. “He was great even before I got the stroke.”

McGuire said the search for a new chief will likely begin early next year. With the municipal budget season beginning and the holidays just around the corner, McGuire said he wants to begin the search during a less hectic time. Chamberlain said he would remain the acting chief until a replacement is chosen.

As for applying for Dimmick’s position, Chamberlain said he’s content to remain a sergeant. He did say he’s open to becoming chief someday in the future.

“I’m a relatively young 41 years old,” Chamberlain said jokingly. “If I became chief, they’d be stuck with me for 18 years or so.”

Dimmick said that while his time in Williston was short, he hopes he made a positive impact. McGuire and Chamberlain said Dimmick helped transform the department into a more efficient police force.

“His impact has been major,” McGuire said. “He’s helped our department move forward and improved the professionalism within the department. He’s just a really nice person and he’s going to be missed.”

Chamberlain said Dimmick changed the department from being a purely response-oriented unit to one that became more community-oriented.

“He brought a strong sense of community and had our guys get to know the public more,” Chamberlain said. “He pushed us beyond Taft Corners.”

Dimmick said Williston is a great community with many caring individuals who have been helpful to him through his recovery. He specifically wanted to thank every member of the department, as well McGuire and the town staff.

Throughout his ordeal, Dimmick said his family — wife Robin and daughters Cassie, Jenna and Brittany — have been “beautiful.” He said he couldn’t have improved as much as he has without them.

“They helped me so much,” Dimmick said. “They love me and I love them.”