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Officer accused of domestic assault - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Officer accused of domestic assault

Robert Barrows Robert Barrows

Hinesburg, Vermont - January 11, 2011

A Hinesburg police officer finds himself on the wrong side of the law. On Monday night Officer Robert Barrows was arrested for attacking his girlfriend. A charge he denies.

The alleged assault occurred at the couple's Hinesburg home. When police responded they learned that the man accused in a domestic disturbance was one of their own.

"It's our policy because we're such a small department and we want to make sure that every employee is treated impartially and fairly so I immediately contacted the Vermont State Police," said Chief Fred Silber, Hinesburg police department.

State police say Barrows was off duty when he assaulted his girlfriend at the home they shared.

"It is a very disturbing situation," said Silber.

A situation that the chief says is especially troubling given that the accused is one his cops.

"He has not been disciplined yet because we are still in the process of determining really everything that happened. But I personally relieved him of duty."

Barrows is currently on paid administrative leave. As long as the criminal and internal investigations are going on, Barrows will get a paycheck.

"As a paid town member and an officer of the law he has that right and should have it until he's proven guilty," said Alex Goodrich of Monkton.

But even allegations of domestic violence have others in this community shocked and disappointed.

"We supposed to look up to people like that," said Jessi Rushford of Hinesburg, "If they are the ones going off doing things how are we suppose to look to them for advice and ways to act."

"People should be safe. That's what the police are supposed to do. So if they aren't doing it at home then how can they go out and protect and serve," said Todd Weaver of Monkton.

The chief says Barrows has been employed with the department since April of 2010 and considers him a valuable member of the force.

"We have had no significant problems with Officers Barrows in the relatively short period of time he's been employed by the Hinesburg Police Department."

Barrows used to be an officer in Shelburne. There he was cleared in a controversial case for shooting a drunk driver in the back who had hit him with his car and was fleeing from the scene.

Now it's up to the Hinesburg select board. It will have the final say on Barrow's fate. In a closed door meeting on Tuesday night, board members determined that they still need more information before they make a decision.

"At least until Chief Silber completes his internal investigation and reports back to us and then perhaps we will make a decision," Jonathan Trefry, Hinesburg select board chair.

A decision select board members say they hope will come in a matter of days -- not weeks.

Jennifer Reading - WCAX News

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