Vergennes police honored for investigations, enforcement, community policing

VERGENNES — Many individual members of the Vergennes Police Department received honors on March 28, when the department held its annual recognition ceremony during a Vergennes City Council meeting at the city’s Green Street fire station.
The night’s biggest award, however, went to the entire department and covered the full tenure of Chief George Merkel, who was hired in November 2009 to lead what was then a struggling force.
The department received an “Outstanding Unit Citation” signed by Mayor Michael Daniels and City Manager Mel Hawley that lauded city police for their “exemplary work in the areas of community policing, criminal and narcotics investigations, and motor vehicle enforcement during the period of November 2009 to March 2017.”
The citation noted that between November of that year and the award of the certificate the department has “investigated 1,119 criminal offenses resulting in over 250 narcotics charges and 511 criminal arrests, as well as making 17,617 traffic stops, apprehending 142 impaired drivers, issuing 10,191 tickets, and 7,426 warnings.” 
As a result, the citation stated, “The Vergennes Police Department has become recognized as a standard bearer for law enforcement in Vermont, New England, and within federal agencies and our officers have become recognized as experts in their specialized fields. Most importantly you have been accepted by our community as a police department whose primary concern is the safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of Vergennes.”
Individual citations went to Officer Brittany Clark; Senior Patrolmen Patrick Greenslet, Mark Stacey and Adam O’Neill, Patrol Sergeant Brent Newton; and Detective Sergeant Jason Ouellette.
Clark received an Exceptional Duty Award for “exemplary performance in motor vehicle performance” in the past year. Clark conducted 1,314 traffic stops, resulting in 564 tickets and 743 written warnings.
Greenslet’s Exceptional Duty Award came for enforcing impaired driving laws. His 499 traffic stops resulted in 18 citations to motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and he also issued 249 tickets and 250 warnings.
Stacey received a Good Samaritan Award for his “outstanding patience and compassionate efforts” in calming an emotionally distraught patron in a restaurant, work that drew him praise from citizens on the scene as well as the citation.
O’Neil and K9 Kane received an “Outstanding K9 Unit Award” for being an “outstanding and cohesive K9 unit” that was responsible for “numerous narcotics finds,” including “seizure of over $30,000 during a narcotics traffic stop and the location of a fleeing suspect without incident,” and the “seizure of a substantial amount of cocaine and marijuana” at another traffic stop.
Newton’s Exceptional Duty Award was due to his “diligent work in the development and management of the Vergennes Governor’s Highway Safety Program,” and his efforts as the department’s commercial motor vehicle enforcement officer, DUI enforcement instructor, and Drug Recognition Expert. In 2016, Sergeant Newton wrote 247 citations for commercial motor vehicle violations.
Ouellette earned an Exceptional Duty Award for his “outstanding work on a simple larceny case which led to the seizure of two stolen firearms, heroin, the solving of numerous car break-ins and burglaries from around Addison County, as well as possibly preventing what may have led to an armed robbery … Sergeant Ouellette’s outstanding performance was not only a tribute to himself and the Vergennes Police Department, but also set a tremendous example of how the most insignificant of cases can lead to the largest of successes.”
Also, five members of the department were recognized for law enforcement service milestones: O’Neill for five years, Ouellette for 10 years, Stacey for 15 years, Merkel for 25 years, and Greenslet for 30 years. 

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