Brian Peete, the former police chief of Alamogordo, N.M., was introduced June 3 to lead the Montpelier Police Department.
Peete, 44, will replace Chief Tony Facos, who will retire from the force on June 30 after serving as chief for the past 13 years. Peete will work with Facos on the transition beginning June 15, following a 14-day COVID-19 quarantine. He must also undergo a mandatory waiver process to qualify for certification as a Vermont law enforcement officer.
Peete, a Chicago native, was selected from a field of 19 candidates after review by City Manager Bill Fraser, city staff, police officials, and a panel of six outside stakeholders.
Peete said he was drawn to the job by the Montpelier department’s commitment to modern community policing and the quality of life the city offers to him and his wife, Natalie, and daughter Gabriella.
“I’m planning to build upon the department’s values of inclusion, accountability, transparency, and community-based service,” Peete said in a virtual news conference. “Nowhere in this great country is there another department more dedicated to 21st century policing practices and culture.”
Peete served 16 months as chief in Alamogordo, a city of about 30,000 people located about 70 miles northeast of Las Cruces, N.M. He resigned in November following a dispute with the former city manager in Alamogordo. Peete filed a whistleblower complaint against the manager, citing unprofessional relationships and preferential treatment within City Hall, according to published reports. He was suspended and later resigned following mediation and dropped a lawsuit he had filed against the city, reports said. Hundreds of residents appeared at public meetings on his behalf, reports said, and the city manager in question ultimately resigned.
City officials said they were well aware of the events in Alamogordo and found broad support for Peete’s performance as chief and his handling of the resignation process.
“I, personally, dug very deeply into the details and came away even more convinced that Brian Peete was the right choice for Montpelier,” Fraser said. “The political and administrative environment created by Alamogordo’s City officials conflicted with his personal and professional ethics. Chief Peete’s commitment to Alamogordo and its residents, and the overwhelming support he continues to have from that community, his previous employees, and other partner agencies became clear during the extensive vetting process. I heard over and over again, even from his critics, how effective he had been and how much he had improved the department. His integrity throughout the ordeal was inspiring.”
Peete, who has a strong military background, said the politics in Alamogordo went against his personal integrity.
“There have been some administrative things that did not coalesce with how I was brought up, personally and professionally,” he said.
Peete said the current unrest over the killing of an unarmed African-American man in Minneapolis is indicative of the need for more community-based policing.
“We need feedback and honest discussion with those we serve in the community and I think once we all love each other and understand each other things will continue to get better,” he said.
Peete began his career in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a lieutenant, captain, an assistant special agent-in-charge, and as a region manager for the Office of Special Investigations, according to a news release. His law enforcement career started with the Chicago Police Department, where he served as a crime prevention and information center analyst, a field training officer, and a patrolman. He also has worked as a chief investigator and chief forensic audit investigator for Police Accountability for the Office of the Inspector General in Chicago. He has a bachelor’s degree in Employment Relations from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Police Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology.
“We had a very strong group of finalists. Chief Peete, however, rose to the top among all of our review groups,” Fraser said in the release. “We are confident that Mr. Peete’s experience and dedication to the profession of law enforcement will immensely benefit the Montpelier Police Department and the Montpelier community. We look forward to his progressive and innovative approaches to improve our already excellent Police Department.”
Peete will earn $103,000 annually, the same amount as Facos.