To the editor: Londonderry should consider other ways to control speeding than costly sheriff

At Town Meeting last year, Londonderry voted to appropriate $45,000 to hire the Windham County Sheriff to spend up to 20 hours per week for policing the town of Londonderry.

File photo by Shawn Cunningham.

A representative from the sheriff’s office said that they were committed to policing the community as a whole (which was important to the voters since Londonderry has had a problem with drug dealers and with break-ins in the past).

Since then, according to the Windham County Sheriff’s police log on their website, the vast majority of their “policing” has been issuing traffic tickets. It is important to note that the Sheriff’s Department makes money from each ticket it issues, so it has a financial interest in issuing tickets.

The reason given at the meeting for using the sheriff —  since the Vermont State Police were no longer available for additional patrols in Londonderry — was the speeding problem. But speeding can be corrected for much less money using means that work 24 hours per day at all of the problem locations, rather than 20 hours per week at one or two locations. Radar signs can be installed as well as rumble strips and speed tables, which are much more friendly and easier on trucks and plows than speed bumps.

As I recall, there wasn’t very much speeding on Thompsonburg Road when it was bumpy. The problems arose when it was re-paved. One-time money can be used for those means rather than $45,000 every year for a sheriff to occasionally slow people down.

I am all for policing in Londonderry, and if the town were able to contract with the Vermont State Police or Winhall Police (who are also EMTs and respond to all emergencies including medical emergencies – something the sheriff does not do), I would be for it.

Personally, I don’t believe that Londonderry needs to be known as the next speed trap as Danby, Wallingford and Plymouth are known. We don’t need a new sheriff in town.

I urge the Londonderry Select Board to warn the following Article at Town Meeting: “As an alternative to contracting with the Windham County Sheriff, shall the town vote to raise the sum $30,000 to control speeding by installing mechanical means, such as radar signs, rumble strips, and speed tables, at the select board’s discretion?”

Doug Friant

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  1. Doug Friant says:

    It is important to note that the Sheriff’s Department makes money from each ticket they issue, and they split the money with the Town of Londonderry. From July – October the sheriff issued $29,711.00 in fines, issuing tickets to 78% of the people they stopped.