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