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State’s top cop resigns, takes similar job at UVM

By Guy Page

Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling has resigned. The former Burlington Police Chief, UVM alumnus, and Vermont native begins a new job as UVM Chief Safety and Compliance Officer (CSCO) June 20. 

Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison will serve as the interim Public Safety Commissioner.

Schirling has served as commissioner of public safety since September 2019. He previously served as Vermont’s secretary of commerce and community development from 2017 to 2019, also in the Scott Administration.

Schirling will lead the Safety and Compliance Division, which includes Police Services, Emergency Management, Risk Management and Safety, Compliance and Privacy Services, and the university’s CatCard ID systems.

With 14,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff, UVM has the daytime population of a medium sized city. Many types of events attract thousands of visitors for athletics, performing arts, and academic conferences.

“The university faces most of the risk and safety concerns of any large community plus additional challenges unique to a college campus,” said Schirling.

A native of Burlington, Schirling studied political science and education at UVM where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 1989, he began a 26-year career with the Burlington Police Department rising in the ranks from officer through more than a dozen specialized roles that led to becoming Deputy Chief and, ultimately, Chief of Police in his last 8 years at the department.

As commissioner of Public Safety, he was responsible for the Division of Fire Safety, Emergency Management, the Forensic Lab, and the State Police and he focused on modernizing the delivery of public safety services statewide. He also served as a member of Governor Scott’s Covid Response Leadership Team, which has managed the State’s response to the pandemic. Schirling was particularly involved in vaccine logistics, restart efforts, testing sites and coordinating across government and with community partners. 

Schirling has expertise in areas including policing underrepresented populations, law enforcement technology and innovation, digital forensics, gender-based violence, victim services, crimes against children, internet crimes, sex crimes, and anti-terrorism. Among his many additional roles, he has worked as a consultant and trainer for the U.S. Department of State, an expert witness to Congressional committees, and a faculty member in digital forensic technology at Champlain College.

Schirling’s public service includes appointments to dozens of local, state-wide, regional, and national working groups and committees. He served on the board of directors of Boys and Girls Club of Burlington for 14 years, among several non-profit leadership roles. 

Schirling’s appointment was the result of a highly competitive nationwide search following the announced retirement of Vice President for Operations and Public Safety Gary Derr after 22 years of service. Schirling will report directly to President Suresh Garimella and serve on the university’s senior leadership team.

Sourced from UVM, State of Vermont press releases

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