By RUSSELL JONES
After the deaths of two women and a burglary in or around Proctor in the past three months, the Proctor Selectboard brought in Rutland County Sherriff Stephen Benard to talk about the recent events and the possibility of either starting a neighborhood watch or adding more police coverage.
Though 24-hour coverage was briefly discussed, it would be nearly impossible for Proctor to maintain.
“It would cost roughly $279,000, plus equipment costs, for 24-hour coverage,” said Benard. “That’s three cars and 16 months of training to get new staff trained.”
There was discussion about whether that was even needed.
“Over a long period of time, we haven’t really had any need,” board chair Bruce Baccei said. “Then three things all at once.”
The three incidents Baccei referred to were a Rutland woman found dead in her car on a Proctor road in March, and a Proctor woman who was found dead in her driveway and a burglary that both happened in May.
“There’s no indication of a social problem in your town, only that someone used your town at the end of a crime,” Benard said. “I don’t know that having 24-hour coverage would have stopped that.”
The board also discussed starting a neighborhood watch in the town.
“I’ve Googled neighborhood watch and it would take days to read all the information available,” Baccei said.
The sheriff agreed with Baccei that there are many different ways to go about starting a neighborhood watch.
“There’s no cookie-cutter way to do it, each one is tailored for the community it is in,” Benard said. “Starting a neighborhood watch in Proctor is much different than starting one in Philadelphia.”
Benard said his department has had success in the past with email groups that send out small bits of information on anything suspicious they see.
“It’s like a puzzle,” Benard said. “He has a piece, you have a piece, they may not know each other but if there’s a central repository for that info, it can be extremely helpful to law enforcement.”
He added that West Rutland has had success with a Facebook group that posts about suspicious activities the residents notice. In the end, the sheriff said it was all about communication.
He needs interested parties to communicate with his department so they can stop illegal activities, no matter how small. He said that quality of life calls, such as speeding or not picking up after your dog, are important to his department as well.
“We’re a vendor of police services and you’re the customer,” he said. “We’re not tax-based, we’re contract-based. It’s about customer service for us and quality of life is important in that.”
The selectboard is planning to set up a meeting between interested parties and Benard’s department to get a neighborhood watch started soon.