As break-ins spike, Londonderry panel to finalize policing proposal

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 — Telegraph Publishing LLC

With just a few days left in October, Vermont State Police incident reports show there have been at least 20 instances of burglary, breaking and entering, and other types of larceny in Londonderry, Peru, Weston and Andover since the beginning of the month — and five of those occurring on the same day.

Among all of these incidents were the burglaries at Flood Brook, Windham and Winhall Mountain schools as well as break-ins at the Londonderry and Windham town offices.

With these incidents as a background, the Town of Londonderry’s nine-member Policing Committee will shortly be finalizing a recommendation for law enforcement coverage in the town and presenting it to the Select Board.

Set up by the Select Board on Aug. 3, the committee has considered several options to provide police protection. Among these have been hiring the Windham County Sheriff’s Department to patrol the town, forming a Londonderry Police Department, exploring a regional police force and having the town constable take on police powers.

VSP Capt. Ray Keefe. Telegraph file photo

VSP Capt. Ray Keefe says, ‘The area is fairly unprotected. The State Police are the primary responders there, but we have fairly light numbers.’ Telegraph file photo

Reached on Tuesday, committee chairman Peter Pagnucco said that the committee was “doing what the Select Board requested by coming up with a (policing) recommendation.” Declining to comment further, Pagnucco said that the recommendation would be finalized at the committee’s Oct. 29 meeting then presented to the Select Board on Nov. 2. “We want to finalize it before we publish it,” Pagnucco said.

According to Capt. Ray Keefe, commander of the Vermont State Police Troop D (which includes the Rockingham barracks that patrols Londonderry), “The area is fairly unprotected. The State Police are the primary responders there, but we have fairly light numbers.” Nevertheless, said Keefe, there is a group effort among State Police to work the problems.

“There’s an intel group connected by email that’s sharing information on the incidents,” said Keefe. “We are using different methods including changes in patrol timing, employing technology and surveillance.”

“It’s a tight knit group of troopers sharing evidence,” Keefe continued. “I see the emails.”

But there are limits.

Keefe said that his officers do not have the resources to patrol far flung areas of their districts all night without cutting into all of the traffic and law enforcement duties they have to conduct during the day. While the VSP is currently shifting resources to late night patrols of Londonderry, that’s not a strategy that can go on indefinitely: Sooner or later troopers will have to go back to the norm, which includes ceasing patrols between 2 and 7 a.m.

Keefe called the lack of resources a “legislative problem,” saying, “There are no police out there in the middle of the night; you can’t do the best you can from bed.”

“This is an issue of some concern to me as it is for local residents,” state Rep. Oliver Olsen told The Telegraph. “It’s driven by heroin addiction, but the state is facing a structural deficit and human services needs are driving up costs. (The policing committee) is a thoughtful group looking at local options for policing to be paid for by local taxpayers.”

Keefe, saying that the State Police are not getting a lot of information from the community, urged anyone with information on any of the burglaries to give a completely anonymous tip to the police.

Olsen agreed. “People shouldn’t be shy about calling in suspicious behavior,” he said. “But most people are asleep at 3:30 a.m.”

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  1. Stewey Flatts says:

    The demand for heroin is very high in this part of Vermont.