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Officer Fisher ready to retire after 33 years on the beat

MIDDLEBURY — Officer Scott Fisher used to keep multiple police uniforms in his closet.
And not spare uniforms for a single department.
For a time during the mid-1980s, Fisher was working shifts for the Middlebury, Vergennes and Vermont State Police departments.
It was all he could do to keep his own officer identification numbers straight when they came across his radio.
Give him a little time, and he still remembers them.
It was 482 with VSP; 2588 with Middlebury; 705 with Vergennes.
“I like to stay busy, but I could do without the adrenaline flow,” Fisher said with a grin during an interview on Monday.
His adrenaline flow will abate considerably beginning on March 29 — his 63rd birthday, when he’ll retire from Middlebury PD in his 33rd year of full-time service.
Fisher got into police work by happenstance back in 1984. Two of his buddies — the late Ed Cyr, and Greg Blair — were working as Middlebury Police officers. They also put in occasional hours working for Fisher’s small company, Fisher Fire Equipment, installing fire suppression systems in restaurants.
Cyr and Blair suggested to Fisher that they broaden their partnership.
“They told me the police department needed help and that I should apply,” he recalled. “I went through the interview process and ended up getting hired.”
Fisher earned his part-time officer certification through the Vermont Police Academy, which opened several doors — and he walked through all of them in order to make a livable wage.
He became an auxiliary state police trooper and dispatcher, based primarily in Middlebury. It’s a job that saw him perform marine and snowmobile patrols.
At the same time, Fisher worked part-time for the Middlebury and Vergennes police departments.
“I had a lot of things going,” Fisher said with a grin.
He performed his duties well, and the folks in Vergennes took notice, offering his first full-time patrolman’s gig, which he accepted. Fisher continued to live in Middlebury, where he would work the occasional shift for Chief Al Watson.
Watson put on a full-court press to woo Fisher away from the Little City.
“He told me ‘You’re a Middlebury resident, you should work in Middlebury,’” Fisher said.
The clincher? A $1,000 bump in pay. Fisher was making $13,101 at the time.
And of course there was no commute. 
Fisher became a full-time Middlebury Police patrolman on Aug. 29, 1986, and he’s never looked back. He joined a Middlebury force that at the time carried seven patrol officers, a captain, a lieutenant and a detective. The department now counts 15 uniformed personnel, when it’s fully staffed.
PERILOUS SITUATIONS
It’s a career that’s seen him work days, nights, evenings and overtime. Many of the shifts have been uneventful, thankfully, meaning Fisher and the folks he’s sworn to protect finished the day safe and sound.
But then there are other days when Fisher and his colleagues encounter perilous situations. And that’s when experience and training kick in.
Fisher was on duty during the double-murder/suicide at the Pine Meadows housing development some 25 years ago, a tragedy that resulted in Middlebury schools being put on lockdown while authorities ensured there wasn’t a suspect at large.
There was the epic ice storm of 1998, which paralyzed much of Addison County with downed electrical lines and impassible roads.
“Ed Cyr and I were on duty for around 30 hours straight,” Fisher recalled. “We couldn’t leave, and (reinforcements) couldn’t get in.”
“A lot of us put in long days and didn’t see our families for a while,” Fisher said.
He remembers Middlebury Village resembling a war zone — largely deserted streets that echoed with loud banging sounds. Only these sounds weren’t gunfire; they were noise created by snapping tree limbs that couldn’t support the weight of the ice that had enrobed them.
Another ethereal ice storm scene recorded in Fisher’s mind: A public works official hitching a makeshift blade to a bucket loader that he used to clear fallen trees off North Pleasant Street.
Then there was the train derailment in downtown Middlebury in October 2007, when all officers were called in to ensure public safety while crews stabilized the freight train and cleaned up spilled fuel.
Fisher doesn’t like to brag, but his file includes some glowing citations from Chief Tom Hanley for his job performance. For example:
•On Jan. 17, 2018, Fisher was sent to 428 Court St. on a report of a potential drug-overdose victim. He found an unresponsive 38-year-old woman collapsed on the stairs of the building. Seeing the symptoms of a potential opioid overdose, Fisher administered two successive doses of Naloxone that ultimately revived the woman.
“Officer Fisher acted with all due haste and his intervention was effective in reviving the woman until she could receive medical care at the hospital,” the citation reads.
•On Sept. 18, 2018, Fisher, Sgt. Mike Christopher and Det. Kris Bowdish were dispatched to a Weybridge Street home on a report of a young mother who was feeling suicidal as a result of family matter. 
Fisher, first on scene, found the woman on the ground on a steep slope near Otter Creek, a ligature tightened around her neck and fastened to a tree. She was severely oxygen-deprived, as gravity had pulled her down the slope, tightening the ligature around her neck.
Fisher used his knife to cut the ligature and gave her first aid. As she began regaining consciousness she became combative, but Fisher and his fellow officers restrained the woman until an ambulance arrived and took her to Porter Hospital for treatment.
“Officer Fisher acted with all due haste and his intervention was effective in reviving the woman until she could receive medical care at the hospital,” reads the citation.
It’s no surprise that things usually turn out well when Fisher responds to a call. He’s a self-described “people person” and was born and raised in the town he serves. So when he encounters someone in trouble, or causing trouble, he likely knows the person and/or the person’s family.
“I’ve always enjoyed public service,” Fisher said, whose resume also includes a stint on the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association (now called “Middlebury Regional EMS”). “It’s always about the people. It’s community oriented. You get a sense of self-worth.”
TURNING LIVES AROUND
At the same time, he knows a cop is the last thing a suspect wants to see at the scene of a crime. But such cases can have happy endings, he noted.
“Sometimes, later on, they thank you,” he said, recalling folks who’ve turned their lives around.
Fisher has spent a lot of his career getting young people on the right path.
He ran the Middlebury Police Department’s Explorers Program for 21 years, until 2012. The program taught local youths the basics of public safety and public service. 
He served as Middlebury’s school resource officer for a decade.
“When we first started the program, it was a little bumpy; kids looked at us like, ‘They’re coming in here to bust us,’” Fisher recalled.
Eventually, students came to appreciate Fisher and future SROs as people interested in their well-being. Fisher walked the halls of Middlebury Union High School while his own two children were enrolled there. His contributions to the school district included two years as junior-varsity softball coach.
“Sean Farrell said, ‘I really need a coach, you wouldn’t be up for another task, would you?’” Fisher said with a chuckle.
His dedication to student activities extended to Mary Hogan Elementary School’s “climbing wall” program, through which children learn the principles of trust and teamwork while benefitting from exercise.
Fisher will miss his work with children as he transitions to his “post-retirement” career: A new business venture called Scenic View Trades, specializing in the installation of security camera systems, flood sensors and driveway detectors. He’ll still be in the public safety realm, with one big difference.
“I won’t have to put on a gun and a vest before I go to work,” Fisher said of one of the things he’ll miss the least in retirement.
“My wife (Tammy) will tell you that the scariest thing for her is getting a phone call in the middle of the night and hearing the Velcro on my vest.”
But he’ll miss the rewards, which money can’t buy.
“When you change a person’s life,” he said, “when you talk them out of taking their own life. And when you see them later, they remember.”
Chief Hanley said Fisher would be missed.
“He was reliable, conscientious and dedicated to his duty,” Hanley said. “He had a remarkable ability to find things amiss when on patrol. With his lifelong knowledge of Middlebury and the people who live here, he could sense when things were out of place. He knew how to organize his patrol time and it didn’t matter what shift he was working. So many times when he worked the midnight shift he’d interrupt a burglary at a local business, catching the perpetrator in the act. He was always vigilant. His career was marked by integrity and judiciousness; he always appropriately applied discretion. Scott worked under any condition or circumstance without ever complaining. He was of the old school. He loved his job and it showed.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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