Vergennes honors men in blue
VERGENNES — At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel honored several members of the city police department, and he and City Manager Mel Hawley swore in the newest member of the Vergennes force.
With two dozen of their family members looking on, Merkel praised all of the department’s officers for their willingness to work any hours and accept any duties he asked of them, and for their ability to create “peaceful resolutions” when faced with difficult situations.
“I consider myself blessed to have guys like this working for me,” Merkel said, adding, “I would stack my guys up against anybody.”
The certificates of merit Merkel issued went to:
• Officer Brent Newton, for “Exemplary Service in Motor Vehicle Enforcement.” Merkel noted that in the past year Newton issued 15 citations for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and conducted 372 traffic stops, resulting in 333 tickets. Merkel said those actions “directly contributed to the overall safety of Vergennes.”
• Officer Robert Worley, a “Lifesaving Award.” In May when Worley was off duty and driving on Route 7 through Leicester Four Corners, Worley noticed an injured man being tended to by another citizen and stopped to help, and realized the aid given was not proper and stepped in. Merkel noted Brandon Rescue Squad personnel said that Worley’s actions might well have saved the man’s life, and called Worley “a very gifted individual.”
• Officer Jason Ouellette, a Meritorious Service Award. In April, Merkel said Ouellette defused a potentially “dangerous domestic dispute” in which a man was threatening to arm himself. Merkel credited Ouellette for calling the man on his cell phone, calming him, and persuading him to walk out of his home quietly.
• Sgt. Pat Greenslet, a Meritorious Service Award. Earlier this month, Merkel said Greenslet responded to Northlands Job Corps, where an incident between two students had upset many other students. When Greenslet arrived in the evening, youths were roaming in groups outside their dorms, some fights were breaking out, and Greenslet had to deal with a “volatile situation” that could easily have escalated.
Merkel said Greenslet took control and organized a response with Northlands security to get students back in their dorms and prevent “a more dangerous situation from occurring.”
Merkel also presented a certificate of appreciation to former Alderwoman Christine Collette for her support and guidance during her tenure on the city council, which ended in March with her choice not to stand for re-election.
Sworn in as the force’s newest officer was Rejean LaFleche Jr.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.