Vermont Troopers Association endorses Ted Kenney for Chittenden County State’s Attorney & More Live News

Vermont Troopers Association Endorses Ted Kenney for Chittenden County State’s Attorney

The Vermont Troopers Association has joined nine other labor unions representing police, fire and rescue personnel in endorsing Ted Kenney in the Democratic primary race for Chittenden County State’s Attorney.

“Our endorsement of Ted Kenney is a result of the change he is committed to bringing to the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s office,” said Mike O’Neil, Executive Director of the Vermont Troopers Association. “This endorsement was brought about by the concern our members have repeatedly voiced on the track record of the current State’s Attorney. We appreciate and respect that Ted agreed to step up and run for public office when asked repeatedly by community members looking for an alternative. This shows us he is a willing partner who will work with all stake holders to create lasting solutions.”

Kenney accepted the endorsement, noting that, as with all other union endorsements, he was not asked for and did not give any promises. “The only thing I agreed to was that I would listen, and that I would work to repair the fractured relationship between law enforcement and the Chittenden State’s Attorney’s office,” Kenney said.

Kenney joins Democrats Douglas DiSabito for Grand Isle State’s Attorney and Michael Pieciak for Vermont State Treasurer as receiving the Troopers Association endorsement.

The union’s statement acknowledged that the criminal justice system is imperfect, and said that troopers are committed to making it more equitable and effective. But, the statement said, “we have become increasingly concerned in a prosecutorial imbalance that we believe has helped contribute to a rise in both violent crime and serious property crimes.”

The union also voiced concern with the incumbent’s leadership of an organization dedicated to abolishing prisons, starting with the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.

The full union press release follows.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2022

Vermont Troopers Association Endorses Ted Kenney for Chittenden County State’s Attorney

The Vermont Troopers Association joins the many other unions representing first responders in Chittenden County in endorsing Ted Kenney for State’s Attorney, the counties highest law enforcement official. Ted is committed to listening to those who see what is happening firsthand and on a daily basis. He acknowledges there will be differing opinions on what policies work best and will work with stakeholders for the best outcomes. Since being appointed in 2017, current States Attorney Sarah George has incrementally enforced policies that have helped contribute to the current trend of unrest in Vermont’s most populated county.

Vermont’s Troopers acknowledge that current systems are imperfect, but are committed to their role in making them more equitable and effective for all. We have become increasingly concerned in a prosecutorial imbalance we believe has helped contribute to a rise in both violent crime, and serious property crimes. We know Vermonters do not believe Troopers and other Law Enforcement Officers in the County can stop every crime or tragedy. We also know they expect us to do our best, in a fair and impartial manner, when doing our jobs.

As recently reported in the Rutland Herald, Ms. George sits on the board of directors for the Woman’s Justice and Freedom Initiative (https://www.wjfi.org), that seeks to abolish the Chittenden County Correctional Facility. In a January 2022 interview on WVMT’s “Morning Drive with Kurt and Anthony”, she publicly acknowledged that she may not prosecute certain cases sent to her office by law enforcement. The American Bar Association states, prosecutors “should act…consistent with the interests of justice and with due regard for fairness, accuracy, and rights of the defendant, victims, and witnesses.” In our view, Ms. George’s policies create an imblance, that put her in direct conflict with her elected responsibilities as State’s Attorney.

As an example, Ms. George enacted a “non-public safety stop” policy, which presumptively declines to prosecute criminal cases stemming from motor vehicle violations she believes do not pose a risk to the general public (e.g. vehicle equipment). Ms. George did not consult or otherwise partner with law enforcement in any way while developing or enacting this policy. This has led to an ongoing refusal to prosecute a significant number of impaired drivers who were stopped for minor, but legitimate motor vehicle violations. That is, they were stopped before the tragedy could happen. To put this in perspective, approximately 40 % of all pro-active DUI arrests by the Vermont State Police, originate from “minor” motor vehicle violations. This policy takes away an important tool that can help save lives and help stop tragedies before they occur.

Ted believes in a balanced approach to public safety and incorporating restorative justice strategies but, not at the expense of crime victims or the public’s safety at-large.

“Our endorsement of Ted Kenney is a result of the change he is committed to bringing to the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s office”, said Mike O’Neil, Executive Director of the Vermont Troopers Association. “This endorsement was brought about by the concern our members have repeatedly voiced on the track record of the current States Attorney. We appreciate and respect Ted agreed to step up and run for public office, when asked repeatedly by community members looking for an alternative. This shows us, he is a willing partner who will work with all stake holders to create lasting solutions.”

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