Support is uniform for stricken officer
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | January 19,2014
Cpl. Jason Allen of the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department
After Jennifer Coffin’s house fire in 2011, one of the first people to offer help was Jason Allen, she said.
“He was on the doorstep the next morning with everything we needed,” she said.
Now, Coffin said, she would like to return the favor. Allen, 33, a corporal with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Coffin, a civilian employee at the department, and Allen’s other coworkers are rallying around him. Several have planned a fundraiser scheduled for early next month.
“He’s just a really special guy,” said Penny Garofano, the department’s office manager and a co-organizer of the benefit. “He’s always been there if anybody needed anything. He must have made the same impact when he was in school ... they all love him.”
Allen is a graduate of Mill River Union High School.
Another organizer, Deputy Ryan Brady, said Allen has health insurance but is out of work due to his illness. He said Allen is a single father with two children.
“He’s holding up fairly well under the circumstances,” Brady said. “All the support people are showing has humbled him. He wasn’t expecting this.”
Sheriff Stephen Benard said he could not recall a singe complaint against Allen in his 13 years of service. He also said he had repeatedly received calls praising Allen’s professionalism — from people he had arrested or ticketed.
“That’s doesn’t happen,” Benard said. “In my 35 years’ experience I’ve never had that with a deputy or other officer I’ve supervised.”
In addition to being good at his job, Allen is devoted to it. Benard said Allen volunteered to take on the duties of training coordinator at the Vermont State Police Academy during recent difficulties there.
“Even though it messed up his personal life for two four-month periods, he gave it 100 percent,” the sheriff said.
Allen’s coworkers in the rank and file also praised his professionalism.
“I can say that if I had a choice, he would be one of the first guys I would want next to me if I had to do anything,” said Deputy Jim Bennick. “He’s the kind of guy that, if he had arrested you for assaulting him, he’d be the first to save your life.”
Allen’s coworkers also said his positive mood and humor lift up everyone around him.
“The first thing I would say about Jason is his smile and laughter is infectious,” Bennick said. “You can’t be around the guy without laughing. He can make any bad situation into a good situation.”
The benefit is planned for 2 to 8 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge on Center Street. A pasta dinner will be served from 3 to 7 p.m., and music will be provided by DJ Art Howard.
Auctions and raffles are planned, with prizes including hunting firearms, fishing gear and watches donated by area businesses.
Admission for the dinner is $10 and additional donations may be made to the Jason Allen Benefit fund, care of Leanne Bixby at Heritage Family Credit Union. There is also a “Jason Allen Benefit” Facebook page.