Once again, Cmdr. Greg Sheldon, of the Rutland City Police Department, will succeed his colleague Matt Prouty as Sheldon takes over leadership of Project VISION in April.
Prouty will retire from the department on April 1, but will be away for a portion of March so Sheldon is expected to be part of next month’s VISION meeting. The monthly meetings for VISION, a community-based organization run by the Rutland City Police Department have been taking place remotely.
Sheldon said when Prouty announced his desire to retire, Department administrators were looking for someone who had experience with VISION so there would be “less of a learning curve.”
“I was the only one who was a commander who had VISION experience outside of Matt. That was part of the thought process. I’m not going in there brand-new as a commander and brand-new to VISION,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon is the patrol commander for the police department, but said he enjoyed working with VISION and expects it will be a “nice new environment.”
The first leader of VISION, after it was created by then-mayor Christopher Louras and then-Department Chief James Baker, was Scott Tucker, who is currently Wilmington’s town manager. Sheldon was one of the community outreach sergeants for VISION, taking over from the first sergeant, Matt Prouty.
Sheldon said he learned a lot in the year and a half he worked with VISION under Tucker and said he enjoyed the work and the partnerships.
Department Chief Brian Kilcullen said Sheldon was the right choice for the job.
“Certainly since as long as I’ve been here, (Sheldon) has had quite broad exposure to all the operations at the department, including VISION, having served as the community outreach sergeant. He was heavily involved in the (drug) treatment court and many of the Project VISION initiatives. I think we’ll have a seamless transition,” Kilcullen said.
VISION”s initial goal was to respond to the heroin epidemic, especially in the city’s Northwest Neighborhood. Last year, members of VISION worked on a strategic update to expand their goals and remind the community that they had grown beyond just one neighborhood or even one city.
Sheldon said he was interested in looking for more ways to bring together law-enforcement sources with partners at VISION who have specialties like substance-abuse treatment, mental health, homeless prevention, the needs of senior citizens, social work, abuse and violence prevention and state agencies like the Department for Children and Families and the corrections department, among others.
“How do we work with all these partners to make our response to people’s needs in the city better? Because it’s not all law enforcement. We’re been tasked with a lot because we’re (emergency responders) 24/7, but I think society in general across this country is starting to realize, we’re not the experts in everything. There are people out there to handle some of these jobs that have the training,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon’s master’s degree is in leadership and he believes it will be something he can contribute to VISION.
“I’m not talking about law-enforcement leadership, I’m talking generalized leadership. Setting a good example. Listening. Giving people a voice,” he said.
Despite his experience with VISION, Sheldon said he expects that listening to members of VISION and the agencies they represent, will be his first task in what Department members often call “upstairs,” where the VISION offices are located at the police station.
“If I can provide something, great. If I can assist, great. If not, maybe I know someone who can,” he said.
Sheldon said he’s positive that he’ll learn from what the partners can provide as well.
In the past few weeks, Sheldon has been spending time with Prouty upstairs to learn about the way Prouty is working with the organization and its members.
Sheldon said one of the elements he brings to VISION will be “serving leadership.” He said there are 30 officers in the patrol division and while he’s the commander, he also looks at his role as working for those 30 people.
Sheldon said he plans to approach VISION in a similar way as someone who leads an organization, but works for its members. He said it’s summed up in one of his favorite expressions, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Overall, Sheldon said he’s expecting a learning curve, although not as large as it wold be for someone with no VISION experience but he added, “I like challenge.”
“Moving upstairs is a whole new realm again, and it’s a new challenge and a new chance to grow as an individual and as a leader. That’s what I’m looking at,” he said.