The History of the Brattleboro Police Department dates back to the early 1800's. In 1882 the current Chief of Police, Warren E. Eason, had seven special officers and requested a budget of $800.35. A breakdown of that budget was $650 for "Night Watch", $116 for Police Chief, $321 for 7 Officers, and a total equipment budget of $2.35.
Many interesting notations about the "law enforcement efforts" were made annually in the Town Bailiff's Report. Some of them were as follows:
1889--"The board commends the present officers to their successors for good work done. The capture of persons engaged in the burglaries last fall was accomplished without noise or bluster".
1891--Matches to light the street lamps cost the department 25 cents and a police weapon was purchased at a cost of $2.00. That year Chief Frank McClure ran the department on $941.90.
1893--The Valley Fair brought 21,000 spectators to the event which caused disturbances from "outsiders" bringing in liquor. No arrests had to be made.
1899--Tramps were a boarding problem with 239 being lodged in the department's lock-up.
1901--George Wilson was the appointed Chief and he had two regular Officers. Chief Wilson held the position until 1923.
1905--"Day policeman to be disposed with for the coming year". For the years 1905 & 1906 one night watchman was hired to work for $2.25 per night (7pm to 5am). Though three Officers were appointed, they did not work regular hours but rather were on call as needed.
1921--Pay for the Police Chief was $26.00 a week and his Officers received $25.00.
In 1901 the Town Hall at 129 Main St. was the home of the Police Department. The first telephone was installed for the department's use in 1913 at a cost of $1.50 a month. By then the "headquarters" was located at 90 Elliot St. which at that time was shared with the "Hook and Ladder Company".
From 1923 to 1931 Patrick O'Keefe held the Chief's position. During this time the first automobile violations were listed in the Town Report.
From 1931 to 1937 Howard LaDuke served as Chief. During this time the department acquired its first vehicle; a Model B Ford purchased at a government auction. The vehicle had been confiscated from a bootlegging operation on the Stratton/Arlington Rd.
In 1937 Francis Regan served as Chief, before leaving to become the Chief of Police in Burlington, Vt.
By 1938 D. Edward Connors became Chief and served until 1942 when he left to enter the Army.
By 1940 the Police Department had moved back into the "Auditorium" or "Town Hall". Joseph Holiday became Chief in 1942 and continued until 1950 when he entered the FBI. By now the number of Officers had grown to nine. Also an arrest fee of $1.95 per subject which the Officers would receive per arrest had been replaced with increased salaries.
In 1950 Richard B. Putnam became Chief and had a complement of 13 regular Officers. He served until his death in 1963. Also by this time the department had been moved to its current location at 230 Main St. This occurred in 1953.
From 1963 to 1981 Chief Reginald D. Belville assumed command of the department. During this time the department rose from 13 Officers to 30. The Police Station also expanded in size finally occupying fragmented parts of the basement and first floor of the Town's Municipal Center.
In 1979 the department formed the Special Reaction Team. It is a multi functional team whose duties included hostage rescue, service of search/arrest warrants, crime scene & evidence recovery, and other specialized missions.
From 1981 to 1984 Marcel Leclaire was the Chief of Police. Prior to his appointment of Chief, Leclaire had been with the Brattleboro Police Department for 20 years. During this time he had seen the number of incidents increase from 3,448 to 10,740 annually.
By 1985 incident reports had risen again to nearly 20,000 annually. Acting Chief of Police Richard Guthrie held the office until Bruce G. Campbell (the first Chief not to have come from within the department) took over the position in October of the same year. Chief Campbell came to us from Melbourne, Fl where he also held the position of Police Chief.
In 1986 the Police Station was renovated and expanded. Two additional Officers positions were approved. The following year the Police Department reorganized its structure to better serve the needs of the community and provide supervision to personnel. The annual budget by this time was $1,076,781.
In 1992 through an innovative leasing program the department's cruiser fleet was expanded to nine marked squad cars. Prior to this the number of cruisers ranged from 3 in the 1970's to 4 in the 1980's. Also, a bicycle patrol was formed for use in the business district and for special events. During this year the department undertook a major effort to bridge the gap between the department and the public. This was done through an internal assessment and team building project. A unique method of "adventure based" experiences was used to bring the department personnel closer together and identify deficiencies. This was done through the Brattleboro based Project Adventure Inc. Following this initial step the department then went into the individual neighborhoods with a major "community policing" effort. This was designed to invite citizens to join problem solving discussions, thereby encouraging active participation in local policing issues Read "Community Policing in Vermont-Adventure in the Brattleboro Police Department", written by Francksca Hillgen for a complete description of the process.
Throughout 1995 and part of 1996 John Martin, the Deputy Chief of Police, became the acting Police Chief. This was due to Chief Campbell accepting the position of Town Manager.
In 1996 a permanent Chief of Police was hired. Coming from the Windham County Sheriff's Department, Richard Guthrie again joined the ranks of the Police Department after a ten year absence, and served until 2000.
In 2002 Acting Chief John Martin, a veteran of the Brattleboro Police Department, was appointed Chief of Police.
In 2004 the Brattleboro Police Department received the International Association of Chiefs of Police for Leadership in Technology Award in 2004.
In August of 2007 Chief John Martin ended his career with the Brattleboro Police Department and Captain Eugene Wrinn was appointed the position of Acting Chief and later Chief.
In June of 2014 Chief Eugene Wrinn retired from the Brattleboro Police Department after serving 28 years in law enforcement. Captain Michael Fitzgerald was appointed the position of Acting Chief and later Chief. He retired in December of 2020.
The above historical information was taken from research initially researched by the past Officer Manager Anita Bobee, and currently maintained by the current Officer Manager Ginny Yager of the Brattleboro Police Department.