Bristol asks residents about police coverage

BRISTOL — Bristol’s Town Wide Police District Committee wants to know what town residents think about the idea of expanding the current police district to encompass the entire town.

To that end the committee has created a brief survey, which it hopes town residents will fill out and return by Oct. 21.

A link to the survey can be found on the Bristol town website, bristolvt.org, along with a map of the current police district.

The Bristol selectboard decided in August that it was time to revisit the idea of expanding the Bristol Police Department’s coverage area to include the entire town.

Currently the BPD polices roughly one square mile of Bristol Village. The expansion would increase the department’s geographic coverage more than 40-fold.

The eight-member committee was appointed by the Bristol selectboard in September and includes Bristol Police Chief Bruce Nason and selectboard chair Joel Bouvier. It had hoped to build upon similar work accomplished by the Bristol Police Advisory Board — a separate, long-standing committee led for years by resident Jim Quaglino — but in the end decided that newer data was needed.

In 2012 the Advisory Board surveyed 1,139 Bristol voters about expanding the BPD into a townwide police force and found that 50.6 percent approved, 21.8 percent were opposed and 27.7 percent were undecided.

But, as Town Wide Police District Committee member Eric Carter, who owns and operates Carter Insurance in downtown Bristol, pointed out, a lot has changed since then.

“In my line of work I’ve seen a lot of faces change in the households that reside in Bristol village and the town since 2012,” Carter said at the committee’s Sept. 11 meeting.

The new survey addresses questions to two different segments of the Bristol population — those who live inside the police district and who pay the BPD budget — and those who live outside of it, who are covered by the Vermont State Police (though the BPD does occasionally patrol and respond to calls there).

“Going town wide” would expand both the BPD’s coverage area and the number of people responsible for footing the bill.

“The Bristol police budget is about $460,000 this year,” explained committee member John Moyers in an Oct. 9 Front Porch Forum post. “Bristol taxpayers within the police district (the village) fund most of that — about $420,000. The rest comes from ticket revenue, contract service for the school district, government grants and $10,000 paid by the town for 144 hours per year of police work outside the district.”

The biggest impact of “going town wide,” Moyers suggested, would be to spread the funding of police services to all Bristol taxpayers.

“Property taxes would increase outside the village and be reduced in the village as that cost was shared town wide,” he wrote.

According to Bristol Town Clerk Jen Myers, who participates in committee work as a nonvoting staff support member, the committee will review survey results at its Oct. 23 meeting.

Paper copies of the survey, which can be printed out from the town website, bristolvt.org, may be filled out by hand and delivered to the town office, or mailed to

Jen Myers

Town Clerk

Town of Bristol

PO Box 249

Bristol, VT 05443

For more information, call the Bristol Town Office at 453-2410.

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com

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