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Vergennes Police Log: Police affected by fumes during search

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Posted on July 3, 2013 |
By Addison Independent



VERGENNES — A Vergennes officer and an Addison County Sheriff’s Department deputy both experienced disturbing symptoms during a June 24 traffic stop on Route 7 in New Haven, according to Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel and city department records.

The deputy called for backup from Vergennes police at the stop because of what Merkel described as “the smell of burnt pot” and “a faint chemical odor.”

Officers obtained consent to search the vehicle, and after both the Vergennes patrolman and the deputy felt dizzy and faint during the search, a Vermont State Police hazardous materials team was called in. The team, Merkel said, discovered that kerosene vapors from a plastic can swelling in the heat was responsible for the first of two problems at the incident.

The Vergennes officer then felt tingling in his fingertips after handling a driver’s license belonging to one of the occupants, who admitted the license had been used to process illegal drugs. Merkel speculated that crack cocaine residue could have caused the officer’s symptoms.

But the search uncovered only paraphernalia, and no drug charges were filed as a result of the traffic stop. The sheriff’s department did, however, cite the driver for driving with a criminally suspended license, Merkel said.

Merkel said the incident highlights what law enforcement officers can face even on routine traffic stops and what they are now “dealing with even on a daily basis.”

CORRECTION: The June 27 Vergennes log incorrectly stated that police alleged Jackson Downey-Teachout, 22, of Cornwall bought 30 single-use bags of heroin from a confidential informant in a Middlebury business parking lot. Police allege he sold the drug and was later cited for sale of heroin in late June.

In other incidents between June 24 and 30, Vergennes police:

•  On June 24 were told that an elderly Walker Avenue woman had probably been the victim of mail fraud by sending money away to scammers; the woman’s daughter told police she would have the woman’s mail forwarded to her home.

•  On June 24 referred a phone problem involving a city business to Middlebury police.

•  On June 24 confiscated a cat from a First Street home and took it to the Vergennes Animal Hospital following reports that it was not being cared for properly; the owner picked it up and pledged to care for it better, but police said an investigation is ongoing.

•  On June 25 returned keys to a city resident after they had been found and turned into the police station.

•  On June 25 alerted nursing home personnel that a man might pose a threat to a new resident.

•  On June 25 dealt with a case of a young male teen using explicit language to girls at Vergennes Union High School; the teen was taken out of school by administrators and a parent, and he was referred to the Department of Children and Families.

•  On June 25 helped VSP with a domestic assault case on Monkton Road in Monkton.

•  On June 26 aided VSP with a fight at the North Ferrisburgh Mobil station; police said a man was knocked out by his mother.

•  On June 26 were told by a White Street resident that her father had told another person that he had threatened the caller because of the caller’s alcohol and tobacco use.

•  On June 26 backed up Bristol police at a fight in which one man wielded a knife.

•  On June 26 went to Bristol to help search for suspects fleeing from an armed robbery. That search was unsuccessful, but while there city police stopped a car for speeding on Route 116 east of Bristol village, and after a VSP canine alerted on the car and a search was conducted cited Cassandra Fraser-Brown, 22, of Bristol for possession of heroin.

•  On June 27 checked the welfare of a First Street resident, who was found to be fine.

•  On June 27 learned that a man reported missing since June 24 from a First Street home was in Binghamton, N.Y.

•  On June 27 responded to a one-car accident in which the vehicle struck the Small City Market.

•  On June 28 began investigating the theft of 250 feet of guy wires from the Velco substation on North Main Street.

•  On June 28 calmed a dispute between neighboring Green Street apartment residents that allegedly included one throwing cat feces at the other’s door.

•  On June 30 dealt with a drunken individual at the Hillside Acres apartment complex.

•  On June 30 took a report that a bicycle had been stolen from a Green Street residence.

•  On June 30 calmed a dispute between a divorced couple at a Main Street apartment building.

•  On June 30 looked into a complaint of a dog being locked in a car at Shaw’s Supermarket; the car was gone when police arrived. 

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