By Luke Baynes
As Marge Shepard undertook the delicate task of pinning a gold badge on a freshly starched police uniform, she made an impromptu comment.
“What an honor this is, son,” she said.
The pinning of the badge marked the final act in an Aug. 20 ceremony at the Williston Police Department that saw Todd Shepard take the oath of office to become the new police chief for the town of Williston.
Shepard, 48, formerly served as deputy chief of the South Burlington Police Department. A native Vermonter, he has been a member of the Milton Selectboard since 2010.
Prior to the oath-taking ceremony, Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire praised the contributions of Interim Police Chief Doug Hoyt, who stepped in when former Police Chief Roy Nelson was forced to step down to undergo cancer treatment. McGuire also thanked members of the police force who have continued to serve, despite the department’s state of flux.
“Members of this department have experienced more changes in leadership, upheaval and adversity than is reasonable to expect,” McGuire said. “It is a testament to their loyalty and dedication that, first of all, they’re still here, but secondly, they have, during that time period, undertaken their work in a professional manner, and we thank you for your patience and professionalism during this trying time.”
Prepared remarks by Williston Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig also addressed Shepard’s anticipated role in rebuilding the department.
“On behalf of the Selectboard, we welcome Todd Shepard to Williston as our new police chief,” Macaig said. “Just as July 1 began a new fiscal year for Williston, today marks a new beginning for our police department. We’ve waited with great anticipation, and now with great expectations for the rebuilding of our police force to occur.”
Shepard, who commented that he never dreamed he would become a police chief when he began his career in law enforcement 30 years ago, also alluded to the internal strife the WPD has experienced in recent years, as detailed in a May 2011 internal investigation report.
“There have been some troubled waters in the past that have reached the news,” Shepard said. “I’m looking beyond those. I’m looking … with the end in mind that we’re going to move forward and plan ahead and work together collaboratively to be the number one agency in the county.”