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Hiker's death prompts review of Vt police policy - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hiker's death prompts review of Vt police policy

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Vermont State police say they're willing to learn from their mistakes.

"I appreciate the opportunity to get better," Vt. State Police Capt. Rob Evans said.

Higher ups in the State police met with House lawmakers Wednesday to discuss changing the Vermont search and rescue policy.

"There's a methodical process that takes place that analyzes if this is a small search that will take place or if this search will last a number of days," Evans said.

In January, Levi Duclos, 19, died on the Emily Proctor Trail in Ripton. His family alerted the police that Duclos hadn't returned home from a hike by 8 o'clock at night. Family members say police told them a search wouldn't be deployed until the following day, citing a policy that prevents them from sending people out past a certain hour unless it's an emergency.

"Not once has a decision been made to pull back for resources. If lives are at stake, resources will roll," Evans said.

In Duclos' case, police didn't anticipate the loss of a life.

"We're really focusing on moving forward and not talking about this specific case right now," Evans said.

Wednesday's meeting with lawmakers was more like a brain-storming session. House lawmakers are hoping police will take initiative and include other search and rescue teams, like local firefighters, in the decision making process. But Sen. Vince Illuzzi wants a bill.

There is a problem with the way in which search and rescue teams are alerted and activated in Vermont," said Illuzzi, R-Essex/Orleans counties.

Illuzzi drafted legislation that would make search and rescue response a combination of State police efforts and volunteer searchers and rescuers.

"The goal of our legislation is to ensure regional protocols are in place so that when a call comes in a number of community leaders are alerted," Illuzzi said.

Illuzzi's bill would create a search and rescue study committee that would begin researching rescue operations in Vermont this summer. State police say they expect they'll be able to put a new policy in place by September.

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