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Former Bennington chief to lead VT Police Academy

March 23, 2011
NEAL P. GOSWAMI
Staff Writer
BENNINGTON — Former Bennington Police Chief Richard Gauthier has been tapped by Gov. Peter Shumlin to serve as the next executive director of the Vermont Police Academy. 

Richard Gauthier

Gauthier retired from the Bennington department in September after 30 years with the force, including 12 as chief. He then joined the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department as a captain and has served as an investigator for Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage. Gauthier also has taught criminal justice courses at Southern Vermont College.

Shumlin spokeswoman Susan Allen confirmed Gauthier’s appointment on Wednesday. A public announcement is expected to be made today.

“If you look at the job it kind of combines a number of interests that I have. One of the points I used to hammer on the police department was the need for improvement in training and professionalism. It’s always been a strong belief of mine. I think it’s a pillar,” Gauthier said.

The Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council oversees the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford. The council has several standing members, including the commissioners of Public Safety, Motor Vehicles, Fish and Wildlife and the Attorney General. Five members are appointed by the governor to represent law enforcement.

The council members are responsible for conducting a candidate search, reviewing applicants, interviewing candidates and conducting background investigations before making a recommendation to the governor. Gauthier’s name was forwarded to Shumlin after the council agreed to recommend him, according to Rutland County Sheriff Stephen Benard, chairman of the council.

Shumlin met with Gauthier about the position on Tuesday.

Gauthier said colleagues around Vermont encouraged him to seek the job. “It was a position that a couple of the chiefs encouraged me to apply for after learning about the opening. It was something I thought a lot about, he said. “I’m pretty excited. I’m looking forward to going up there and becoming part of this.”

Former Vermont State Police Director Col. James Baker is serving as the academy’s executive director on an interim basis.

Gauthier’s appointment will provide long-term stability at the academy after a period of turmoil. Baker replaced former Executive Director R.J. Elrick, who resigned in January 2010. No official reason was provided.

However, a trainer at the academy committed suicide two days later when police began a criminal investigation into possible child pornography. The investigation began after an internal human resources investigation into an unrelated personnel matter turned up e-mail messages that police said indicated child pornography may have been viewed or accessed at the academy.

“There’s work that needs to be done. I think that one of the things that you have to recognize is the tremendous job that Col. Baker and the council and the staff have done in getting the academy going in the right direction. In my opinion, it’s a matter of continuing in the right direction that they’ve started,” Gauthier said.

Gauthier said it’s unclear when he will take over the position, but expects to assume the role sometime between mid-April and May 1.

Contact Neal P. Goswami at ngoswami@benningtonbanner.com

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Big Show permalink
    October 26, 2011 11:52 am

    Mr Gauthier would be the one to know about “more professionalism”, he’s made many sexual advances on women while on and off duty

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