New commander takes helm at local VSP barracks

NEW HAVEN — Stepping into his new position as the commander at the Vermont State Police barracks in New Haven last week, Lt. Gary Genova’s career came full circle.
The 47-year-old began his career with the VSP more than 20 years ago at the former Middlebury barracks just down the road. An Addison County resident, Genova said he’s pleased to return to the barracks where his career with the state police started, and looks forward to reviving his partnerships with longstanding public safety officials in the region.
In a time when resources at both the state and local level are stretched tight, Genova stressed that collaboration with other law enforcement agencies will be increasingly important at the New Haven barracks.
“One of the things that I appreciate is that this is a smaller community, and relationships are more quickly developed in this county as opposed to (Chittenden County),” Genova said. “I do appreciate more of a one-on-one with community leaders.”  
In his first day on the job, Genova said it was too early for him to speak much about the specific law enforcement challenges facing Addison County — though he said that, certainly, the demand for VSP services is on the rise, and the types of crimes that troopers are seeing are changing.
“Demands are greater for all agencies,” Genova said. “That’s why it’s so important for our agency to work collectively with other agencies.”
In other changes, Genova said that technology is playing a bigger role in both investigations and in criminal activity.
Meanwhile, conserving resources at the New Haven barracks is a priority. The station is down to one administrative position from two a few years ago, and with two of the station’s troopers away on military duty, troopers have to pick up additional shifts.
“The other troopers have to step up, and they do, willingly,” Genova said.
Genova, who came to Vermont from New York in 1987, grew up making trips to the state as a child. He saw Vermont as a great place to raise a family, and was drawn to a profession in law enforcement because of a desire to make a difference.
Since his initial position in 1987 at the Middlebury VSP barracks, Genova has held a number of different jobs with the state police. In 1988 he was assigned to the VSP canine section, and worked with two police dogs — a German shepherd trained in patrol and narcotics detection, and a Labrador retriever who worked as a bomb sniffer.
Working with the canine unit was one of Genova’s favorite positions with the state police, though he said that handling a bomb dog certainly changed after Sept. 11, 2001. After the terrorist attacks, he found the position became much more stressful, and required more frequent travel throughout the state.
Genova also worked as a shift supervisor at the Williston barracks, and has served on several state police boards, including most recently a council dedicated to researching and supporting “bias-free” policing among state police troopers.
Before coming to New Haven, Genova was stationed at the VSP’s Office of Technology Services in Waterbury, where he headed up the rollout of a “mobile computer program” that is putting computers in every VSP cruiser in the state.
As of this week, New Haven troopers will be among those up and running with the new technology, which will allow them to do everything they once did from their desks — including writing and filing reports, and pulling up records — from their patrol cars.
Genova said the change means that troopers can spend more time on the road, and be in a better position to quickly respond when calls come in.
Genova lives in Monkton with his wife and five children, who range in age from 5 to 16. He applied for the position at the New Haven barracks in part because of the chance to work closer to home in a community he already knows.

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