Police Reports

When Orange County sheriff leaves, entire staff will leave with him

Also, Senate ponders restrictions on sheriff’s pay, powers

The new Orange County Sheriff’s tenure will get off to a challenging start when he takes office on Feb. 1. The entire administrative staff will resign effective Jan. 31.

Three duty clerks or dispatchers, a bookkeeper and an office manager are expected to leave the office in Chelsea the same day longtime Sheriff Bill Bohnyak departs.

Bohnyak, an incumbent Republican, lost the election for county sheriff to Democrat and part-time Deputy Sheriff George Contois on Election Day, 2022. An effort by Contois to take command of the department in mid-December, well short of the official start day of Feb. 1, was rebuffed by Bohnyak.

Yesterday, the Vermont Criminal Justice Council announced its sanction against Bohnyak for assigning what it said was an unqualified deputy to investigative work.

“Quite frankly, we’re in a desperate situation,” said Sheriff-elect George Contois during a budget hearing yesterday afternoon.

He said Lamoille County has been providing dispatching to cover OCSD’s contracted services with municipalities, but he does not know the cost or other details of the arrangement because he has been barred from obtaining that information.

Without administrative staff or other support, Contois said it could hamper policing in the county.

“I can’t put people on the road,” he said.

Ed. note: Meanwhile, the Vermont Senate is considering legislation that would undercut sheriffs’ ability to collect compensation and repeal the penalty for refusing to assist them.

S17 would “add subcategories of unprofessional conduct for law enforcement officers reviewable by the Vermont Criminal Justice Council, prohibit sheriffs from collecting compensation for administration of contracts or related services, repeal the penalty for refusal to assist a sheriff, and require the Secretary of State and the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs to review and report on the number of sheriff’s departments.”

The bill is sponsored by Sens. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) and Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) and eight other senators (none of them Republicans). It has been assigned to Senate Government Operations, which is chaired by Hardy.

Republished with permission from today’s Journal-Opinion daily newsletter, free to all subscribers. The JO is the community newspaper for Bradford and surrounding towns on both sides of the Connecticut River.

Categories: Police Reports

11 replies »

  1. When people get a gut full of the dirty, political corruption, they will stand and walkout. God bless and provide overflow for all of them. They will not go along to get along. They will not sell their souls for a buck. Many more people need to find their guts and do the same.

  2. There are those in the VT Legislature who have long wanted to be rid of the Sheriff’s Departments. The State refuses to sufficiently fund them, and now they want to take away the only ability of the Sheriff’s office to fund themselves. The end result? Rural communities will have no police force to contract for community coverage.

    • They want to but they can’t because sheriffs are constitutional officers. But the powers under the golden doom can restrict their funding and make the job strictly court related. Without contracts with towns the sheriff gets a couple deputies for court transfers to jails and an office budget. Central planning for the highly political one party system in Vermont, the general fund where all dollars land and get doled out to whatever fantasy the legislature comes up with The gov. has to nod in approval because he has no veto power. And that’s because he did nothing to get more republican elected. Welcome Vermont politics where one party rules.

  3. Isn’t it the Sheriff’s only duty to serve warrants and protect the court?

    How did it become their duty to run speed traps and break up kid’s parties?

    • You are exactly correct. Sheriffs are required by the constitution to be court officers. Unfortunately, Vermont doesn’t have county government, we have central planning like a communist dictator. All the money goes into the state fund so politicians can fund what they want or not. Sheriff’s in Vermont are paid by the state and a county like Washington used to get 2 state paid deputies. If the sheriff wants to conduct law enforcement in the county, he/she has to have contracts for service because the state has the state police to fund. It’s a mess like most things in Vermont and highly political of course and it’s past time for Senator Sears to retire. More central planning from people who just talk and exercise their political power. One sided political power that is.

      • As an “elected” law enforcement official, a sheriff’s duty is far beyond serving paperwork and transporting criminals. Their duty is to defend and protect the People above all others = not the State, not the judiciary, or any other law enforcement officer. They have much more authority that as a collective in Vermont, they choose not to excercise that authority. You will see in other States that sheriff’s can and do refuse to do the State’s bidding to enforce unconstitutional laws (gun laws and plandemic mandates.) They can also do their own investigations and charge criminals (as in Florida with the human trafficking busts.)
        Unfortunately, in Vermont, the office is tainted like all others. Above all, our corrupt selection process ensures the syndicate has their own inserted into position to protect the operation. A great example is Bennington County and the shenanigans going on there. Whatever is truly going on in Orange County, it does appear the men and woman in that office are choosing to bail out – they know they are outnumbered and have no support.

    • Comment on leftist sites such as VT Digger & the Bennington Banner…..oh wait, they don’t ALLOW freedom of speech. Or thought. Be careful what you’re wishing for.

  4. Legislature should be careful what they wish for. When there is no official law enforcement, many will call Remington or Winchester to uphold the law and the ravens will feast. There will be no respect for any Marxist installed squads only remington based resistance.

  5. The Vermont State Police are servants of the state.
    The sheriffs are servants of the people.
    It would be best for the people of Orange County (for instance) to directly fund the sheriff’s department to keep and keep it autonomous …. ie. not an instrument of the state.