After nine years, Richard Gauthier, executive director of the Criminal Justice Training Council, which runs the Vermont Police Academy, is stepping down when the current training class graduates.
Gauthier, who took the position after 30 years with the Bennington Police Department, said life circumstances often indicate when you should do something.
“I decided it was simply my time to retire and move on to other things,” he said.
The police academy in Pittsford is where training takes place for all the recruits in the state so the recruits can become certified to be police officers in Vermont.
The current police academy class began at the start of February.
Chief Christopher Brickell, chairman of the council, one of the Northern Directors for the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police and chief of the Brandon Police Department, said Gauthier told the council at its Oct. 30 meeting of his intent to retire.
Brickell said he believed Gauthier’s retirement date was June 1 which he chose to finish out the current class and to finish out the current Legislative session.
The council will look for candidates to fill the position, a process that includes advertising its availability. A notice has already been posted to the Criminal Justice Training Council, or CJTC, website.
“Once we have determined who the best candidate for that position is, then that name gets appointed to the governor. It’s a governor-appointed position,” Brickell said.
Brickell said the position will be advertised locally and to the International Association of Directors and Law-Enforcement Trainers, which is expected to attract people who have had experience leading an academy or a similar position.
The candidate does not need to have law-enforcement experience, but it would be preferred, Brickell said.
Brickell has appointed a committee specifically for finding the CJTC’s new executive director. The co-chairmen are Rutland County Sheriff Stephen Benard and Michael Schirling, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, which includes the Vermont State Police and Vermont Emergency Management.
“They developed in conjunction with me what the job description was going to be. That was sent out to the state so that position’s now being advertised on the state’s website,” Brickell said.
He said the committee’s members are hoping to have a proposed candidate identified by the end of the Legislative session and soon enough that Gauthier can work with his successor long enough to guarantee a smooth transition.
Leader of the police academy is an important position, Brickell pointed out.
“Here in Vermont, we all train the same so we have state police, sheriffs, municipal agencies, Fish & Wildlife officers, constables, are all trained at the same academy, and we all receive the same training. It’s critical that it crosses all different agencies and that there’s a central repository that’s giving standardized training for every recruit in Vermont,” he said.
Gauthier said he had no plans to leave Vermont after retirement.
In his time at the academy, Gauthier enjoyed watching the growth of the recruits as they learned how to become police officers.
He said Vermont faces a challenge that seems to be nationwide, finding enough recruits to fill all available needs in various police agencies.
“There are agencies that are in a permanent state of recruiting simply because they constantly have openings. The whole pool has diminished over the years. I noted that when I was at Bennington PD. I noticed I was getting fewer and fewer applicants and a smaller percentage of those applicants was actually acceptable,” he said.
Gauthier said he took special pride in the way the team at the academy came together through the years.
“I have an outstanding crew, and they’re very passionate about the training function. I’m proud of that whole piece moving forward,” he said.
Brickell said the search committee has a lot to consider in choosing the right person to lead the future of the CJTC training program.
“We have a lot more varied training than was typical nine years ago,” he said. “We have a lot of involvement by the Legislature and interest in what type of police training is given to our new recruits. We also have a lot of outside entities that have an interest in who our next executive director is going to be. There are a lot of issues with fair and impartial policing, with transparency with use of force training, so we want to make sure that we’re getting an outside view of what the qualifications should be as well for the next executive director.”