Randolph Names Next Police Chief
New Top Cop Has Focus On Crime Victims
Randolph’s new police chief has always been attracted to Orange County—and not just because of the estimated two dozen deer that he’s bagged here over the years.
Sgt. Daniel P. Brunelle, a 19-year veteran with the South Burlington Police, has been picked to serve as the next police chief of Randolph. Brunelle said he will start in the middle of June.
Brunelle, who currently lives in Washington County, said his wife and young daughter are looking to make the move with him to Orange County.
“I love the Orange County area. It is central, Central Vermont. It has all the right things,” he said.
For the past six years, Brunelle has been the supervisor of the Traffic Safety Division in South Burlington, Vermont’s fifth-largest community. While much of his enforcement focus has been on traffic safety, Brunelle also has a special interest in domestic abuse and crime victims.
The Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services in May 2014 presented him its “Ally” award for dedication and long-term commitment to preventing domestic violence and making a difference for victims of crime. Brunelle also has served as a member of the Chittenden County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force. Brunelle said he will be eligible to draw his pension from South Burlington beginning in October when he turns 50.
Though he has enjoyed South Burlington and there is some regret in leaving, the thought of heading a police agency has always been in the back of his mind, Brunelle said.
The South Burlington Police Department “has offered me training and opportunity that would not be available elsewhere,” he said, citing Police Chief Trevor Whipple for his valued guidance, including when Brunelle was applying for the Randolph post.
“The departure of Dan Brunelle from the South Burlington Police Department will be a loss to the agency and the community,” said Chief Whipple this week.
Whipple went on to note that, “In his new position, he will be able to mentor and lead a new team of officers who will benefit from his leadership and immense knowledge of policing.”
Town Manager Melvin E. Adams said he believes Brunelle will be a good fit for Randolph.
“It is significant for me that Sgt. Brunelle understands that managing a law enforcement agency is not a theoretical pursuit with command decisions made in a vacuum and that balance must be achieved within a framework of fiscal restraint and municipal cooperation,” Adams said in a prepared statement.
“I believe you will find him eager and willing to work with department staff and citizens to build the trust and legitimacy required of law enforcement today.”
Brunelle is the permanent replacement for Chief Jim Krakowiecki, who retired after 18 years as a Vermont police chief—three years in Thetford and 15 in Randolph. He worked previously as a police officer in Elizabeth, N.J. for 26 years.
Randolph Sgt. Loretta Stalnaker, a 17-year veteran of the department, is serving as the acting chief.
Adams gave praise to Stalnaker for her dedication to the department while serving as the interim chief.
“Her commitment and professionalism during the extended period of this search are exemplary and very much appreciated,” Adams said.
Stalnaker had applied for a position as the permanent chief and a petition in favor of her appointment was delivered to the selectboard earlier in the year.
She was one of three finalists under consideration in January; however, the selectboard put priority on external candidates with leadership experience.
Selectboard Chair Trini Brassard explained at the time that there had been “some trouble with relationships within the department.”
According to Brunelle, he is looking forward to working with the Randolph department.
“I have heard very good things about the officers,” he said.
The Randolph Police Department currently employs five full-time officers and three part-timers. It patrols a 2.5 square mile police district centered in the village.
Brunelle, who did not start in law enforcement until he was 30 years old, brings a diverse background to the job.
He had worked at two group homes for youths with special needs. He also did work with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps in 1993 and 1994. Champlain College hired Brunelle as an assistant dean of residential life in 1994, a post he held until he went into law enforcement.
The South Burlington Police Department hired Brunelle as a patrol officer in 1998 and he graduated from the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford. He was assigned in 2004 to the traffic safety division where he remained until promoted to sergeant in 2007.
He served as a patrol commander for four years until he took a lateral transfer into the traffic safety division to serve as the top supervisor.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program named Brunelle its “Officer of the Year” in 2007. He also is a recipient of the South Burlington Police Department’s Distinguished Service, Meritorious Service, and Gallantry Star awards.
Brunelle said Monday will be his last work day at South Burlington, but that he will be on paid vacation for a few weeks so he can hit the ground running when he gets to Randolph.
The public can expect to see Brunelle out and about in Randolph.
“It is a working chief” position, Brunelle noted about the job. That means responding to accidents, assaults, robberies, and other calls, while balancing the paperwork and administrative chores of a small municipal police department.
“I’m a road dog. I love being out. I love meeting the public.”
He also loves being outdoors and, especially hunting. Brunelle has been a hunter safety education instructor for the Vt. Fish and Wildlife Department since 1997.
Brunelle said he was 12 years old when his father started taking him to Brookfield for deer hunting. When he was old enough to drive, he’d often head to Brookfield, where the family owns property.
He also has gotten his share of deer while hunting out of state.
Brunelle, a 1985 Colchester High graduate, said he tried to be a serious student at the University of Vermont. He graduated in 1989 as a studio art major and was on the dean’s list six out of eight semesters.
“I didn’t drink. I didn’t party. I paid for it myself,” he said about his college education.
Brunelle plans to visit Randolph in the coming week to meet with department members and other leaders in the area. By mid-June, residents see him walking the streets or out in a cruiser on patrol.