Here is the way Wikipedia describes the Town of Norwich, Vermont: Norwich is a town in Windsor County, Vermont in the United States. The population was 3,414 at the 2010 census. Home to some of the state of Vermont’s wealthiest residents, the municipality is a commuter town for nearby Hanover, NH across the Connecticut River. The town is part of the Dresden School District, the first interstate school district in the United States, signed into law by President John F. Kennedy.
That is certainly a very interesting and informative description, but it falls far short of what this community is all about. It is truly one of the most unique and beautiful places to live, not only in Vermont, but in the entire United States. So it stands to reason that Norwich would have assembled one of the most unique police departments as well. Norwich covers some 44.7 square miles, and it currently has three full-time police officers and one part-time officer.
Chief Douglas A. Robinson works split shifts with the other officers to maintain 24-hour coverage. Chief Robinson indicated they are currently seeking a fourth full-time officer as well.
Doug Robinson noted that the small law enforcement team shares the workload, and he defines his duties in the following fashion: “What it comes down to, from my view as Chief, is that I have to do whatever needs doing,” he stated with a wide smile. “You get to do it all in this department. Working a shift on patrol, drug investigations, detective work, or traffic stops... I’ve done it all. We have about 100 miles of back roads to cover, so we keep busy.”
Doug has acquired the needed experience to lead the department having held the chief of police position for the past 12 years after transferring from nearby Hartford Police Department. At age 58, he has been in law enforcement since 1982.
“I would say I’ve done it all in every phase of law enforcement. That’s what I like so much about the position here in Norwich. I get to meet and greet so many members of this community in so many different ways. You get a lot of exposure and get to know the residents. All of us on the Norwich force are on call 24-hours-a-day and work rotating shifts. We are very fortunate to have mutual aid from many surrounding communities like Hartford, Hanover, Lebanon, and the Vermont State Police. That really aids our cause here in Norwich.”
Judy Powell: When you enter the lobby of the Norwich Police department, you will encounter the friendly, smiling face of Judy Powell who serves as administrative assistant and dispatcher in keeping with their theme of multitasking. She is a veteran of law enforcement as well, having served as dispatcher for both the Town of Hartford and the Vermont State Police for nine-and-a-half years. She has been in her current position for four years.
“When I was younger, I enjoyed the hectic pace of the bigger departments. But these days, the Norwich Department suits me fine. This is such a great, close-knit community. I simply love the people that I work with and that is very important. Everybody gets along so well. It feels like family. I always bake something for each officer on their birthday and we celebrate.”
Anna Ingraham: Anna is the newest member of the Norwich Police Department having come on board two years ago. She is 33 years old and transferred to Norwich from the Windsor Police Department. She was a criminal justice major at Franklin Pierce University and was drawn to a career in Law Enforcement.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people because it just felt right for me,” Anna explained. “When on or off duty, I try to treat people the same way I would like to be treated. That is important to me. In law enforcement, every day is so different and you don’t know what to expect. I like that as well.”
Anna is originally from Danvers, MA and moved to the Upper Valley in 1997.
Frank Schippert: Frank adds to the theme of the Norwich Police Department that they may be low in numbers, but long on experience. This year he will celebrate his 25th year in law enforcement, and his tenth year with Norwich.
“I really appreciate the small-town atmosphere here because I served as a police officer in Wilmington, VT. I then served in a larger force in Springfield, VT, so I have seen both aspects. I just love this close-knit community where you get to know everyone. I make it a point while on patrol to stop and chat with folks. It’s a very special town for sure.”
Frank is originally from the Long Island, NY area, but was influenced by his aunt and uncle who owned property in Vermont and later his parents who retired in the Green Mountain State. He also enjoys the camaraderie with his fellow workers.
“It is like a family atmosphere at work,” Frank explained. “We get together as often as we can, but that is difficult because we all work separate shifts.”
The Norwich Police Department is awaiting the completion of their new headquarters at 10 Hazen Street, in a project that saw the old station demolished and replaced. They are temporarily located on Route 5.
The new police station