State Government

Scott centralizes police organization, Act 250 decision-making

by Guy Page

Vermont’s policing and Act 250 decision-making will fall under more state control than ever, as a result of two executive orders issued by Gov. Phil Scott.

The first order creates the Agency of Public Safety, the details of which will be a work in progress over the next few years. According to a Jan. 14 press release from Scott’s office, “the Agency would initially be comprised of a Department of Fire Safety & Emergency Management, and a Department of Law Enforcement, which would bring the Vermont State Police and Motor Vehicle Enforcement under one roof. It also calls for a study on if and how the Fish & Wildlife Warden’s Service, the Department of Liquor & Lottery Enforcement and other state sworn law enforcement and regulatory operations could eventually be brought under this structure.”

The new agency would include a Division of Support Services, bringing communications, training and administrative resources and functions together for state and local law enforcement. This step will include the E911 Board, as well as the Fire Service Training Council and Criminal Justice Council.

The goal of this centralization of police services:

  • “Better coordinated operations, including training and accountability”
  • “Consistent culture of fair and impartial policing”
  • “Adopting a mindful, equitable and fair system of criminal justice.”

The second executive order also gives jurisdiction over all major Act 250 projects to the five-person Vermont Natural Resources Board, effective July 1. The order will reconstitute the current 5-member Board with a chair and two full time professional members. Two district commissioners will join the Board to review the major project applications from the region where the application originated.

“This structure will provide increased expertise and consistency, while still ensuring a local voice in the process,” the press release said. However, critics of this plan – much discussed in last year’s review of Act 250 – say it will reduce the local knowledge and familiarity that is an asset of the state’s nine regional, seven-member regional Act 250 commissions. The regional commissions will still review minor cases.

Legislation to fix these changes in state law will be introduced, the release said.

2 replies »

  1. Well isn’t this great;Governor Scott has shown his true colors once again;we live in a police state where we are told what to do,how to do it,who and when to do it!!There is no voice of the people,just the government ruling over the people!Now the state runs the police,and if you dispute this,you loose you job!I would suggest respectfully to Gov. Scott,please read the constitution and listen to the voice of the people!!