Deputy stops speeding trooper in Monkton
MONKTON — Vermont State Police will not say what, if any, discipline the department has imposed on a lieutenant and special teams commander stopped for excessive speeding and then spun his tires as he resumed his travels, according to officials.
It’s the latest black eye for Vermont State Police as the Legislature is looking to create sweeping police reforms, including possibly making the discipline of state troopers public again.
For about 40 years Vermont State Police have conducted discipline behind closed doors due to a special law passed after several troopers at the St. Johnsbury barracks were given router bits stolen from a local business by an auxiliary trooper. The long-running scandal resulted in a trooper not involved in the case to kill himself at the Vermont Statehouse.
Officers employed by municipal police or county sheriffs are subject to public discipline disclosure in many cases through Vermont’s Public Records Act.
In the latest case, State Police Lt. Cory Lozier was driving a silver unmarked truck going 65 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone in Monkton when the Addison County Sheriff’s Department attempted to stop him last week, officials said.
The incident happened on a winding narrow section of Bristol Road and fresh rain had made for a slick surface at about 9:05 a.m. on June 11.
When the Addison deputy sheriff, Sgt. Michael Elmore used the blue lights on his cruiser to signal the speeding vehicle to pull over, the driver, Lt. Lozier, flashed the hidden blue lights on the unmarked truck apparently to try to indicate he was a police officer.
Elmore still tried to pull over the truck to ensure a real police officer was driving and it wasn’t somebody with unauthorized blue lights installed in his vehicle, the sheriff’s department said. The deputy also wanted to understand what emergency the driver was responding to that required going 25 mph over the posted speed limit and with disregard for the community, Sheriff Peter Newton said.
During the eventual stop, Elmore mentioned the high speed was unsafe due to the winding, narrow road, Newton said. Sgt. Elmore also noted roads can be extra slick early in a rain shower because oil on the road starts mixing with the moisture, Newton said.
Lt. Lozier responded that he did not need a lecture from the deputy, the sheriff’s department reported. They said Lozier later spun the tires on his truck as he drove off after the traffic stop.
The incident was caught on both dash cam video in the cruiser and the deputy’s body camera.
“The lieutenant was in the wrong,” said State Police Capt. Michael Manley, who was asked by his department to investigate the incident.
“The deputy was right to stop him,” Manley said.
He said there was “nothing to defend.”
Manley said when he confronted Lozier he admitted he was speeding and agreed the account provided by the sheriff’s department was accurate.
“There was no emergency,” Manley said. He said Lozier reported he was headed to the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford to help with training.
Manley said no traffic ticket was issued and he does not expect one will be issued.
Any driver operating 25 mph over the speed limit in Vermont would be eligible for a $277 traffic ticket and five points assessed against his driving record.
Manley said the Vermont State Police tries to hold itself to a higher standard and in this case it failed. He said he offered the sheriff an apology that a lieutenant had put the deputy in that situation.
Manley said no written apology has been offered by Lozier nor does he believe one is planned.
Lozier, who has been a trooper for 15 years, said in an email Friday that he would not comment on the case.
He has been with the Tactical Services Unit since 2007 and took over as commander in 2018.
Manley said he considered the case as falling under the Vermont State Police Internal Affairs law, which says investigations are confidential. Manley said he was unable to say what discipline, if any, was imposed.
It is unclear if the case will be presented or mentioned to the Vermont State Police Advisory Commission — a 7-member citizens panel that often gets to review misconduct complaints involving state troopers.
Sheriff Newton said he got a heads-up from Sgt. Elmore about the traffic stop in case somebody at state police called.
Newton said he was shocked by the attitude of the lieutenant, especially in light of the extra public eyes that are on police across the nation due to several high-profile cases.
The sheriff said he reached out to the head of the Agency, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling to allow him to handle the case. Schirling said he was required to have a department investigation.
Capt. Manley later called to report he was investigating the misconduct complaint. Manley also said he was not trying to raise a “tit for tat” but reported he had heard from a supervisor that Sgt. Elmore was known to speed, Newton said.
Newton said he has never received such a complaint about Elmore, who oversees the patrol division.
It was after that phone call that Newton said he realized he had to be fully transparent about the case and also how his department operates. He posted a generic report of the incident on Facebook, but never mentioned the police agency or lieutenant by name.
Newton’s posting noted he welcomed formal complaints if his deputies were acting wrong and promised full investigations. The sheriff included his cell phone number.
“If someone complains about one of my deputies I will certainly investigate it thoroughly and take action as needed,” Newton wrote.
The public response had been all positive through mid-Friday afternoon. More than 60 comments were offered and they support Sgt. Elmore, Sheriff Newton or the sheriff’s department.
Manley, who served as the troop commander in Rutland, Bennington and Addison County after working as station commander at the New Haven barracks, said he has always had good relations with police agencies.
“We need to work together,” he said.
Lozier has served with state police since 2005 when he was assigned as a road trooper in Franklin County. He was promoted to sergeant and named a patrol commander in 2013. He transferred to the Narcotics Investigation Unit in October 2017. He was promoted to lieutenant Sept. 2, 2018.
The tactical unit, formerly known as SWAT, observes the highest standards of professionalism at all times, according to the state police website. The unit also “strives for a nonviolent resolution at all times to protect the public, enforce the law and keep the public trust.”
Homepage Featured News
Late spring frost devastates crops
When temperatures dropped below freezing during the early hours of May 18, it not only sur … (read more)
Pump track good for kids and adults
It’s fun, it’s free and it’s kid friendly. It’s the Middlebury Bike Pump Track, which open … (read more)
Orphaned bear cub rescued in Bristol
An orphaned, black bear cub was rescued in the Bristol area after a group of local minors … (read more)