MONTPELIER — “It is a historic day,” said City Manager William Fraser on the steps of City Hall July 1 at 9 a.m. Fraser was there along with around a couple dozen other people, including some council members, law enforcement, city employees, news media, and onlookers, for the occasion of swearing in new Police Chief Brian Peete.
The event was historic, in part, because Peete is the first chief in 40 years who was not born and raised in Montpelier, as was outgoing Chief Anthony Facos, and, before him, former Chief Douglas Hoyt. Facos’s last day was June 30, when he was given a big surprise send-off June 30 by law enforcement and emergency responders of all stripes. Police officers and emergency responders, the state of Vermont, and even federal law enforcement were on hand to say goodbye to Facos, who had been with the force for 33 years.
And during that event Chief Facos said, “For all the men and women in Vermont who wear the uniform have pride in what we do, we all took an oath to serve our communities. It’s a pivotal time in Vermont and in the country and we need to listen. Reform is happening, and we want to be there for our community.”
Peete picked up on that theme when he spoke just after the official swearing in ceremony officiated by City Clerk John Odum. “We’re going to rise to the challenge and we are going to be the example for the rest of the country,” Peete said.
The day was also historic because Peete is the first black police chief to serve in Vermont. And with the recent new wave of racial awareness, especially concerning racial equality and policing, Peete’s race is not insignificant.
Peete addressed comments to his “new bosses” City Manager Fraser and Assistant City Manager Cameron Niedermayer. He also praised the Montpelier Police Department for their progressive policing procedures.
“They have been doing this kind of community policing since before it was cool, since before it was something that was brought to the surface because they understand people. … I will not betray that trust. I will move forward.”
He thanked other city workers, the community, and his wife, Natalie, and daughter, Gabriella. He said when the going gets tough, he will be able to pull together with his family, saying, “It is impossible to do without your support.”
City Manager William Fraser hosted the swearing in. He warmly welcomed Peete and his family. He pointed to Peete’s solid credentials as being the reason he had been selected, including his education and law enforcement and military experience. He described his policing philosophy as “forward thinking.” Fraser then introduced Mayor Anne Watson, who also welcomed and thanked Peete for stepping up to serve in Montpelier.
Before the event, Fraser introduced Gabriella to Watson, telling her that if she grows up to attend Montpelier High School, maybe Mayor Watson would be her science teacher.
“I love science!” Gabriella said.