Home News and Features Three New Officers Help Alleviate Police Staff Shortage 

Three New Officers Help Alleviate Police Staff Shortage 

Newly hired police officers Andrew Serrels and Quinn Montes, right, stand with Montpelier Police Chief Eric Nordenson, center. Photo by Lauren Milideo.
On Tuesday morning at Montpelier City Hall, two new officers were sworn in to the Montpelier Police Department. Their arrival, along with a third officer who could not attend because of illness, halves the number of open slots in the department’s roster and should help to alleviate an ongoing staffing shortage.

“We’re authorized for 17; we’re working with 11,” Montpelier Police Chief Eric Nordenson said of the current staffing situation. This number is authorized by the city council; according to FBI data, the New England region averages about 2.2 officers per thousand residents, Nordenson said.

The department has been running on a short staff for close to two years, he added.

“It’s been hard. We pulled all our detectives off of their divisions, and for lack of a better word, all hands are on deck to answer calls for service.”

While this situation has created challenges, Nordenson said, it has also created opportunities, including allowing officers “to train and learn from each other” when officers’ shifts overlap in ways they would not with full staffing. 

The department has interviewed around 80 applicants in the past year, Nordenson said, noting “we’re one of the higher paid [departments] in the state now … I’m very thankful to the city manager and the city council for doing that for us — [it] kind of gave me the tools I needed to attract people.”

Nordenson added, “You know, quite frankly, I’m a little surprised I didn’t get more full-certified officers with our pay, but that’s okay.”

Applicants selected for further consideration go through an extensive process, Nordenson noted. After interviewing, they join a ride-along, meet other staff members, and undergo academy, background, and polygraph tests. 

“We’re only going to bring in people we feel can meet our standards,” Nordenson said.

On Feb. 6, the new officers, Quinn Montes of Barre, Josh Rolland of East Montpelier, and Andrew Serrels of Burlington, will head to the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford, where they will spend the next 16 weeks in a residential program, followed by another three weeks of classes, Nordenson said. Montes, Rolland, and Serrels will return to Montpelier to undergo field training, joining current officers in their daily duties.

“The goal is that they are okay and feel comfortable enough to have independent patrol, meaning they can work by themselves. We don’t put them by themselves until we think, and they think, that they’re capable of doing that,” Nordenson noted.

There are unique aspects to working in a capital city, Nordenson said, noting Montpelier’s frequent parades, protests, demonstrations, and other activities. 

“There’s always something that will challenge you, and as a cop if you want to be challenged,” Nordenson noted. “This is a great place … there’s always something going on.”

Asked why recruiting new officers has proven challenging, Nordenson pointed to a couple of factors.

“The easy answer is calls for defunding and things like that, but at the same time, you know, we haven’t been our best allies either. You know, nationwide, police have done some things that they shouldn’t be proud of, and we just have to make sure that we don’t follow in those footsteps, and I think that’s made it hard for some communities to support police, and it’s also made it hard for those young people that are thinking about getting into a career … why would I want to get into that?”

On Tuesday morning after his swearing-in, new officer Quinn Montes said he found motivation in “a responsibility to the community,” adding that he was “looking to make a life here in central Vermont for my family and really put down roots.”