WATERBURY — Village trustees could hire a facilitator to improve issues with the village police department.
Just over a week after voters overwhelmingly voted to keep the police department, a meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Main Street firehouse will include a discussion of whether the village wants to hire a Burlington-based consultant, Mary Fillmore, to act as a facilitator between trustees and the police.
“We want to make the most of the police vote,” said Trustee Natalie Howell-Sherman, noting how about two-thirds of ballot casters voted to keep the department. “It’s a good sigh of relief. It’s definitive. And now we would like to make sure we make the most of it and help support the police.”
Howell-Sherman said the facilitator could help advance discussions about roles, responsibilities, expectations from both trustees and police, administrative work, police visibility and community needs, such as increasing foot patrols or having officers introduce themselves to businesses.
Besides just having a police blotter, one idea is to increase the department’s exposure through the media, possibly in a newspaper column about what the police are accomplishing, Howell-Sherman said.
Allegations of misconduct also could be included in discussions, but not until after a report from a village investigation of the police is completed, Howell-Sherman said.
Trustees said the facilitator, if hired, would meet with both the police and the board.
Village trustees set out to discuss Fillmore’s services in April of last year, but she was never hired, village president P. Howard “Skip” Flanders said. One meeting wasn’t properly warned to the public. Then spring flooding occurred, side-tracking the matter, acording to Howell-Sherman.
Resident and former village president Everett Coffey said the current setup, in which the municipal manager oversees the police department, is part of a top management problem.
Howell-Sherman said she wants to build upon what the vote meant.
“It was a good show of support,” she said. “And I just want to make sure we keep that support and make it grow.”
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