Anti-police disrupters can’t stop Vermonters from honoring the Blue

  • by Guy Page
  • July 26, 2020 – At Saturday’s Rally to Support Law Enforcement at the Vermont State House, many heartfelt words and stirring stories honoring the men and women of Vermont law enforcement were seemingly lost in the shouting, chanting, and bullhorns of anti-police counter-protesters. Rather than curse the darkness, Vermont Daily today publishes several tributes and videos that light a candle of appreciation for Vermont’s Thin Blue Line – and also shed light on the disrupters’ apparent hatred of police.

Saturday’s event wasn’t about the rally organizer, Jim Sexton of Essex Junction – as he will be first to admit. Nor was it about the determined tribute readers including Jessica Worn, Pat McDonald and Steve Stringer, sound system provider and operator Richard Haverick, or awesome National Anthem and “God Bless America” singer Bill Lynch of Hyde Park. And it certainly wasn’t about the attention-seeking antics of the anti-cop protesters.

It was about honoring the Vermont men and women who wear the blue, who protect and serve, who keep the law and order without which families are not safe, businesses cannot thrive, and individuals cannot achieve their dreams. The law and order on which the American Dream depends are hateful to the disruption currently in vogue. It insists that ‘privileged’ Americans share in the fear of violence, it despises American capitalism, and it rejects any dream that dares to rival anarchy and socialism.

In fact, police supporters at the rally may actually have reason to thank the disrupters. Had they not partially frustrated speakers’ efforts to be easily heard by the several hundred of police supporters on the lawn, it’s unlikely anyone would have published the testimonies below about the Blue of the Green Mountain State. So to the flock of foul-mouthed, inconsiderate Antifa wannabees who trampled on others’ exercise of their right to free speech – thanks!

Nor is it likely Vermont Daily would have captured their single-minded hatred of police in the following revealing video. As the anti-cop disrupters were chanting and yelling so that no one else could be heard, Barre pastor Gordon Wells went to the microphone. He urged everyone to take a moment of silence for George Floyd, victim of injustice. Somewhat to my surprise everyone – even the well-orchestrated mob – went silent. It was beautiful. But when Pastor Wells then asked for everyone to take a moment of silence for fallen police officers, see what happened….

Gordie Wells speaks to the disrupters as organizer Jim Sexton (gray T-shirt and shades) stays cool amid the intense rally. Video by Guy Page, Vermont Daily

Federal prosecutor Christina Nolan declares appreciation for Vermont cops

Bucking the trend of prosecutors more interested in investigating police than the crime the police are sworn to stop, Vermont has a federal prosecutor who “gets it.” In May, 2019, during National Police Week, U.S. Attorney for Vermont Christina Nolan stated: 

“As the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, I want to acknowledge the work performed by federal, state and local law enforcement, who often face uncertain and dangerous situations without question and without expectation of thanks.  We want them to know they have our unwavering support and appreciation. 

We are so very fortunate to live in the Green Mountain State.  Vermont is an extraordinarily attractive place to reside, and that is due, in no small part, to the tireless efforts of officers at all levels of law enforcement to keep us safe.  Quietly and consistently, they put themselves in harm’s way to protect their communities.  They make decisions every day to stand on the front lines of our campaigns to combat violence, unlawful firearms activity, drug trafficking, and other dangerous crime.  

This is a tremendous daily sacrifice – on the part of officers, to be sure – but also on the part of their families and loved ones, who support them and hope for their safe return home each day.  We must never take for granted their sacrifices and their heroic work.”

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On June 8 this year, as the Vermont and national media were awash with calls to defund and abolish the police, Rebecca Bushway Bissonnette, an Air Force veteran and former member of Colchester Rescue squad who lives in North Hero, wrote an op-ed that appeared in several Vermont media outlets headlined:

 Former Rescue Volunteer Proud of ‘Her’ Officers

During my years of service as a volunteer EMT, I worked closely with law enforcement. My crew at Colchester Rescue was quick to respond, but because the police officers were already out on the road, their response time was quicker. For the vast majority of calls, an officer was already on scene when my crew pulled up. And what were my officers doing? (Yes, “my officers.” Part of my team.)

My officers were comforting an elderly person with chest pain, who felt scared and alone. Coaching her to look them in the eye and slow her breathing until we could get oxygen on her.

My officers were soothing a child who had gotten hurt when he fell off a jump on his skateboard.

My officers spent hours talking with a suicidal man who was up in a tree, threatening to kill himself. Their patient conversation eventually led to the man agreeing to climb down and go to the hospital.

My officers broke up a fight and rendered first aid to a transgender man who had been attacked at a bar.

My officers responded and made the scene safe in various domestic disputes, where one member of the household was using violence against another. They separated and calmed the aggressor and provided reassurance and first aid for the victim(s).

My officers held the hand of a terrified parent in the driver’s seat, and/or brushed the hair out of the face of a terrified child in the back seat, after a car crash.

My officers stepped back from those car crash victims and watched my back while I tended to them as an EMT. They ensured the scene was safe so I could give those patients the medical care they needed.

My officers gave up their off-duty time to volunteer on rescue, with a fire department, or with the technical rescue team.

My officers got under-the-influence drivers off the road, so I didn’t have see, and forever live with, the images of children who could have been killed by these people.

This is just an example of what police officers do, day in and day out. I witnessed these, and countless other caring and professional acts, during my time on rescue. I’m not saying that bad choices aren’t made. They are, and they need to be addressed.

It astounds me that some people — apparently intelligent, logical people — are jumping onto the current popular bandwagon without stopping to think things through. It’s as if they are trying to be part of the popular crowd. But it’s not a good look. Intelligence, logic, and real solutions look much better.

Frank McCarty – blown off porch by blast, rushes in to burning building to save a life

This newspaper story, entitled A Hero Among Us, was written in 2015 by North Hero School student Hudson Kinney and school principal Joe Resteghini, and published in the Islander, the weekly newspaper for Grand Isle County. Officer McCarty is now a detective with the St. Albans Police Department.

Frank McCarty and daughter Grace

In the life of a police officer any day at work can provide for catastrophic dangers. When St. Albans Police Sergeant Frank McCarty leaves for work each night he never says goodbye, instead it is always, later. This message to his eight year old daughter Grace means clearly I am coming home no matter what.

On an evening om 2014 one of Sergeant McCarty’s greatest fears presented itself to him in the line of duty and later allowed him to stay focused and calm.

At 1:11 am Sergeant McCarty arrived at a call for a house fire. In St. Albans, because there is not a standing fire department, police officers are often first on the scene. As he, Officer Keith Cote and Corporal Talley arrived they could hear a man screaming from inside the structure.

The two officers ran inside to discover a man unable to rescue himself, due to disability, from the building. In the instant that they were assessing the situation an oxygen tank inside the apartment exploded. The blast sent the two officers off the porch. Both men were shaken, scraped by shrapnel and debris but back into the apartment they went.

In the few minutes that followed they were able to get the man to safety and to also assist other residents from the burning building. They saved people that night and to them it was just part of their job.

Sergeant McCarty refers to his colleagues as his boys and they see him as a father figure type. He leads by example. In this case, as he said, “you don’t think you just react.” It is that type of run towards danger attitude that makes our country the greatest in the world.

Sergeant McCarty was honored, along with Corporal Talley and Officer Cote for their bravery on this particular night. Frank McCarty, a North Hero resident, is now Frank McCarty Medal of Valor recipient. He and his wife Kate and daughter Grace were presented the honor at a regional gathering of law enforcement on September 22, 2015. 

Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Camilleri gets “Stork Pin” for helping save life of premature baby

Tyler Camilleri, a deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office,received a Stork Pin from the local ambulance service this February for his role in saving a prematurely delivered baby in Richford in late December, 2019.

Tyler Camilleri (center)

Deputy Camilleri responded to an emergency call at a home regarding a baby who was unresponsive. Deputy Camilleri performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation – better known as CPR – on the child before instructing a household member in CPR so Camilleri could coordinate with responding emergency medical technicians.

The baby began letting out small gasps of breath while CPR was being administered. Upon arriving, Richford Rescue members took over caring for the newborn and the mother.

Camilleri remained on scene and helped Richford Rescue load equipment and both the baby and mother into the ambulance, which then departed for the University of Vermont Medical Center. Both the mother and child were “reported to be well” at the hospital.

On social media, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office heralded the incident as “another great example of First Responder partnerships combining to preserve life.”

“Hat’s off to the household member, Deputy Camilleri, Richford Rescue, Central Dispatch and all the medical personnel that did nothing more than their jobs last night,” their post read. “That job is saving lives.”

Deputy Camilleri is a young police officer, but this was the second time he saved the life of a young person in Richford. He was previously recognized by FCSO for helping save the life of a 15-year-old dog bite victim in Richford

State trooper, Hartford officers prevent suicide

In this account, a state trooper and two municipal police officers worked together to save the life of a person trying to commit suicide at Queechee Gorge in May, 2019.

Three police officers — Vermont State Police Trooper Stacey Corliss, and Sgt. Daniel Solomita and Patrolman Aleya Leombruno, both of the Hartford Police Department — were separately honored with a Lifesaving Award for their efforts on May 18, when they helped prevent a man from taking his own life at Quechee Gorge.

“Trooper Corliss responded and arrived moments later and saw a male subject on top of the fence with a leg on either side contemplating suicide,” a description of the incident from state police read.  

Corliss tried to talk the man down and Solomita and Leombruno also arrived at the scene.

“The subject continued to escalate and swung his other leg over the edge towards the gorge side,” according to state police. “Trooper Corliss, Sergeant Solomita and Patrolman Leombruno grabbed onto the subject and were able to pull him onto the bridge/roadway side.

TROOPER ISAAC MERRIAM – a three-generation family story

Trooper Isaac Merriam joined the Vermont State Police in 2016. He is currently assigned to the Middlesex Barracks, and is a member of the Tactical Services Unit. Trooper Merriam grew up in beautiful Elmore, Vermont. After high school he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he was stationed for 4 years at Camp Lejeune, and served one tour in Afghanistan. Upon his Honorable Discharge from the Marines, Trooper Merriam returned to Vermont, and attended Champlain College where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Trooper Merriam settled back in Vermont because he enjoys small-town living and the personal relationships that can be developed while living in and serving his community.

Trooper Merriam is part of a long-standing Vermont law enforcement family who have been proudly serving our state since 1964! His father Bruce Merriam is a Sergeant with the Stowe Police Department and his grandfather, Stan Merriam retired from the Vermont State Police as a Detective Sergeant. Trooper Merriam wears Stan’s name tag and brass belt buckle as part of his uniform every shift.

EVA FRIEND – nurse, runner, friend of police

The rally not only honored Vermont’s law enforcement professionals, it honored those who go above and beyond to honor them – like Eva Friend, a nurse at UVMMC. Earlier this month, Eva completed the “Run Fierce” challenge where she ran EIGHTY-FIVE miles in the month of July to honor police officers killed in the line of duty. The significance of the 85 miles is that is the average number of Fallen Officers per year.

On July 5 she wrote on her Facebook page, “During my run I saw BLM protest, gave them a nice wave and smile. I saw two amazing Winooski police officers outside in the heat trying to assist a man on the ground having issues (very hot out). As a nurse asked if I could help, rescue pulled up shortly so they said they were good.”

On July 11, she ran 8.5 miles, beginning at the Essex Junction Police Department, stopping at the Williston State Police barracks, and ending on Williston Road. She wrote on her Facebook page that day, “Today’s run was dedicated to officer Anthony Dia who in his final breath radioed.. “118, tell my family i love them”. I was thankful for the rain in the last mile.

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The following video, a comprehensive account of the rally, was prepared by Steve Thurston, a police supporter from Addison County who attended the rally.

Video by Steve Thurston

Cover photo by Troy Austin