The Burlington Free Press (Vermont)
BYLINE: By, Mike Donoghue
South Burlington Deputy Police Chief Todd C. Shepard has accepted a conditional offer to serve as Williston’s new police chief, Town Manager Rick McGuire said Tuesday.
McGuire said the agreement is subject to a successful background check and final negotiations. The job was advertised at $55,500 to $79,700 a year. Shepard, 48, is tentatively set to begin work Aug. 20.
“It is with a great deal excitement and gratitude” that he accepted the conditional offer, Shepard said.
“I look forward to working with all the members of the department, town officials and the citizens of Williston,” said Shepard, who lives in Milton where he in his first three-year term as a selectman. His wife, Joyce, is an administrative assistant for the University of Vermont Police.
Shepard was one of two finalists selected from 70 applications, which were whittled to eight for preliminary interviews. Former Vermont State Police Detective and Milton Police Chief Robert Stafford, now a training assistant at the New Hampshire Police Academy, was the other finalist.
McGuire said many qualified individuals applied, but Shepard stood out because he most closely matched the profile developed for the recruitment process through comments from residents and staff in Williston.
“I believe Mr. Shepard has the leadership skills, experience, and personal qualities that our department needs to move forward in a positive direction,” McGuire said. He said the plan is to work with Shepard and police employees “to help make the department one of the best municipal departments in Vermont.”
The town’s police department has struggled in recent years with internal strife. Three internal investigations made public earlier this year, indicated that there was distrust among about half the police employees, while the other half said they just wanted to come to work and do their respective jobs.
The town is seeking a permanent replacement for Chief Roy Nelson, who resigned in January after health issues. Retired Montpelier Police Chief Doug Hoyt is serving as interim police chief.
Shepard began his law enforcement career in 1982 as a part-time officer with Milton Police and as an auxiliary state trooper for the marine patrol. Milton hired Shepard fulltime in 1984, but he left one year later to start with South Burlington.
He worked his way up through the ranks and was named captain in 2005. South Burlington reclassified the job as deputy chief in 2009.
Shepard came in late to the Williston hiring process. The town listed March 30 as the ideal deadline for applications, but his letter was dated May 4. Shepard, who had told South Burlington earlier this year that he was looking to retire this fall, reconsidered and opted to seek his own department.
South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple had been part of the early screening in Williston, but McGuire said he was removed from the process to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Shepard is a past president of the Vermont Police Association and served as chair of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council (2007-2009).
He has an associate degree in computer management (1991) and a bachelors degree in business management (2001) from Champlain College. He picked up a master degree in justice administration at Norwich University (2005). He also attended the FBI National Academy (2000).
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