SHAFTSBURY — A state trooper who was suspended without pay after posting comments on social media about the U.S. Capitol insurrection has resigned.
Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling announced Wednesday that former Vermont State Police Sgt. Lucas Hall submitted his resignation without conditions. It was accepted immediately.
Schirling stated that the details of the investigation into Hall’s conduct was submitted to the Vermont Criminal Justice Council in accordance with Act 56. Possible sanctions could follow from that, including decertification.
“Being decertified means a person could not work as a law enforcement officer in the state of Vermont,” stated Adam Silverman, spokesman for the VSP, in an email.
Act 56 is a Vermont law that took effect in July 2018 that governs the professional regulation of law enforcement officers by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council. Silverman said it’s not clear what, if any, part of its investigation and findings will be made public.
Last week, Schirling released a statement stating Hall had been suspended without pay following reports made to VSP about posts that Hall had made to his personal Facebook page while off-duty that appeared to be in support of the insurrection that took place Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., while Congress was certifying the presidential election results.
“God Bless America!!!” reads Hall’s post. “Cheers to the great Patriots in Washington DC. The time has come…. Let’s gooooo!!!”
According to media reports, five people were killed when a mob supporting President Donald Trump pushed their way past Capitol Police and attempted to enter the rooms where the Electoral College votes were being counted. One civilian was shot and killed by Capitol Police, three people died from medical emergencies. A Capitol Police officer later died from wounds suffered during the violence.
“These posts appear to support the criminal insurgency that occurred yesterday at the U.S. Capitol and to advocate for such insurgency to continue,” Schirling stated Jan. 7. “While we recognize the rights of all people including sworn law enforcement officers to express their views, advocating for the overthrow of the constitutionally defined democratic election process by force or violence violates our oath of office to uphold the Constitution.”
On Sunday, the Rutland Area NAACP posted to its Facebook page soliciting information about Hall.
“If you would like to let the investigators know how this makes you feel, what it means to you to have him policing our streets, or your experiences with him in the past, please submit an email soon as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org,” reads the post. “No word limit, as short or as long as you would like. Your submission will be anonymous. This could impact whether or not this officer works not only for the Vermont state police, but any law enforcement agency in the state in the future.”
The Rutland Area NAACP did not respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday, nor did the Vermont Troopers Association.
According to Silverman, Hall was hired in July 2012 and assigned to the St. Albans barracks in January 2013 following his graduation from the police academy. He was transferred to the Shaftsbury barracks in April 2015, then was sent to the Rutland barracks in November 2016 when he became a detective. In September 2017, he was promoted to sergeant and patrol commander, then in May 2019 was moved to the Shaftsbury barracks. Silverman said Hall’s posts were brought to VSP’s attention by people in public safety and members of the public. He said VSP has not received reports of similar behavior by other troopers, and that their adherence to policies and performance is under ongoing evaluation.
“I think he made the right decision to resign,” said state Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary. “I think it would have been very difficult for him to stay in his position as sergeant in the Vermont State Police, particularly with how state’s attorneys and the public and so forth perceive his arrests.”
Also, he said Schirling was right to suspend Hall immediately.
Sears said police, like some other public officials, are held to a higher standard with regards to their conduct online and off, on duty or otherwise. This is made clear to police when they’re hired, he said.