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Vermont police agencies are struggling to deal with severe staffing shortages

Vermont’s approach to law enforcement is shifting in the midst of severe staffing shortages, both within the Vermont State Police and also most local police departments across the state.

Vermont State Police officials said they have about 48 vacancies out of 333 total sworn positions. Across the state, 51 of 70 other law enforcement agencies said they are also trying to fill positions.

In addition, the Vermont State Police’s two public safety dispatch centers are also having trouble managing call volumes — an issue expected to worsen in the coming months, the agency announced this week.

To ensure these dispatch centers can do their jobs, the Department of Public Safety is rethinking its system for call management and communications, according to a Wednesday press release.

The Vermont State Police has also hired its first-ever civilian recruiting specialist, Dale Nelson. He started work just before Memorial Day at the state police Office of Professional Development, a Pittsford-based unit responsible for attracting new state troopers.

The Vermont Police Academy, which trains all of Vermont’s police officers, eliminated its limits on class enrollment size a little over a year ago. The change, in part, was meant to help deal with the staff shortage, said Christopher Brickell, deputy director of the police academy.

The academy also changed its physical fitness requirements and is re-evaluating its written entrance exam. A new written exam is under development, but passing a written test has not been a requirement for entering the academy for nearly a year.

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