State police honor local officers, city chief

MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Police on Friday honored, among many others, Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel, Detective Corporal Christopher Campbell of the New Haven barracks, and New Haven barracks commander Lt. Gary Genova.
At the agency’s annual awards and promotion ceremony at the Statehouse, Merkel received one of several VSP “Director’s Awards.” According to a VSP release, Merkel was recognized for his “leadership and efforts to combat drug distribution and abuse” throughout Addison County.
“You and the members of the Vergennes Police Department have worked tirelessly within the community and with surrounding law enforcement agencies in a collaborative approach to address the latest surge of heroin and prescription opiates in our state,” the release stated. “This award is presented to you as a symbol of our appreciation for your efforts previously mentioned, as well as your ongoing commitment to working with the Vermont Drug Task Force and Troopers in the New Haven barracks.”
Campbell, whose promotion to corporal was also made official on Friday, also received a Director’s Award. His came for his actions in helping to collar a murder suspect following a deadly assault on the Tow Path off Sand Road in Ferrisburgh last summer.
According to the press release, on July 27 Campbell was “called to assist in the investigation and search for a suspect in a homicide that had occurred earlier in Ferrisburgh. Even though other officers had checked the suspect’s ex-girlfriend’s home and were informed he was not there, you went to that residence and gained permission to search inside. During the search you noticed evidence that led you to check the basement where you found the suspect hiding.”
The account notes that Campbell chased the suspect after he fled through a basement door, and that Campbell was punched in the face while making the arrest with the help of Senior Trooper Jason Johnson of the Rutland Barracks.
“It is clear that you both displayed great diligence and courage in your search and apprehension of this homicide suspect,” the press release stated. “To further underscore the danger posed by this suspect, he later would try to disarm a trooper while being processed at the New Haven barracks.”
Lt. Genova received the VSP “Division Commander Award” for his efforts in recent years to work with many others to “develop and deploy … Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety,” or DDACTS, enforcement model, while also working with VSP branches with a commercial mapping service on a “method of exporting our crime statistics into a web-based mapping system on a daily basis.”
The press released noted, “after an extended trial and eventual purchase of the service, the current version is being used by several station commanders and the Vermont Information Analysis Center as a mapping tool for DDACTS.”
The press release went on to state that when VSP’s Field Force Division “decided to move toward a DDACTS approach,” Genova was “tasked with training others and developing a system to be used department-wide … New Haven was one of the first stations to officially use the DDACTS model and was the example for others to follow.”
Genova was credited with having “educated the public on this approach and encouraged them to become involved in the response to solve and prevent crime.” He spoke with Independent about DDACTS in a series on local crime that ran this past January and February.
Other members of the VSP receiving Directors’ Awards were Lt. Russell Robinson and Matthew Birmingham; Sgts. Steven Otis, Frederick Cornell, Michael Studin, John Merrigan and Hugh O’Donnell; and Troopers Sean Brennan, Seth Loomis, Richard Ostrout, Jason Schlesinger (and K-9 Aero), David White, Eric Jollymore, Joshua Lewis and Robert Zink.
Directors’ Awards also went to Department of Liquor Control inspector Andre Thibault, Bennington Police Officer Peter Urbanowicz, Manchester Police Officer Joshua Epstein, Bennington County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Roy, and Bennington County Deputy State’s Attorney Rob Plunkett.
Lifesaving Awards were giving to Troopers Jacob Metayer and Charles Winn. Dispatcher and citizen Janine LaMarche received citations, and retiring dispatcher Deana Goodell received special recognition.
Among those receiving promotions is new Corporal George Rodriguez Jr., who formerly worked out of the New Haven barracks but is now based in St. Albans. 

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