Middlebury hires new police officers, chief takes a leave

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Police Department in the coming months will phase in two newly hired police officers to replace two members who have left the force. It is a transition that will, in the meantime, require some creative scheduling to ensure shift coverage during the coming months while the new recruits are in training.
Meanwhile, longtime Middlebury police Chief Tom Hanley on July 31 began what he suspected would be an eight-week medical sabbatical to undergo a heart bypass procedure. Veteran Sgt. Michael Christopher will direct the department during the chief’s absence.
“It’ll be rough for the next five months, but we’ll get through it,” Hanley said.
The department’s two police officer vacancies surfaced this past April. Officer Michelle Magee announced she was leaving the force after more than four years in order to return to a job in the healthcare field. And Officer Neil Mogerly followed suit, in order to join the Vergennes Police Department on a full-time basis. Mogerly had previously worked for the Vergennes force before joining the Middlebury PD full-time around a year ago, according to Hanley.
Middlebury police posted the vacancies on its website. More than 20 people applied.
“We had a really strong applicant pool,” Hanley said, a pleasant departure from what he noted had been a dearth in applicants for other vacancies that had popped up during the past five years.
“Suddenly, this past winter, we started seeing this boom in people wanting to become police officers,” he added. “The quality of applicants are folks who are able to get through all the screenings. That’s encouraging.”
Two names floated to the top of the applicant pool: Bruce Meacham, a former Middlebury Water Department worker, and Connor Sousa of Rutland. Both will be attending Vermont Police Academy training during the coming months to become fully certified and road-ready by the end of this year or early 2014, according to Hanley. The department will make sure first-response patrol shifts are filled by using part-time officers and redeploying personnel from other functions. For example, School Resource Officer Chris Mason has been rotated into patrol duties since school is not in session right now.
Hanley said the department has also been recruiting some part-time officers and dispatchers to fill current vacancies.
When fully staffed, the Middlebury Police Department consists of 14 uniformed personnel and four part-time officers.
Hanley plans to begin working from home a few weeks after his medical procedure.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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