Springfield hires new top cop

Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Like communities across Vermont, Springfield has issues with both drugs and crime. A new police chief hired by the town is now tasked with tackling those problems.

Increasing creditability and trust are two goals incoming Police Chief Jeff Burnham says he’s focused on improving at the department. One way to do it, he says, is to get to know the community he’ll serve. “It’s being intricately woven into the community so that they know you, you know them, and it doesn’t have to be on an ‘us vs. them’ situation -- it is kind of a ’we,’” he said.

Burnham is currently deputy chief in Lincoln, New Hampshire, but he says knows Vermont well. He grew up in Brattleboro and has family in Springfield. That means he also knows the struggles, including addiction and drug-related crimes. Springfield has seen its fair share lately.

“Does it concern me? Sure, sure,” said Rebecca Tucker, who has lived in town for over a decade. She hopes increased attention on mental health is part of the new chief’s game plan. “We do have a lot of troubles. Every now and then there’s a siren and something going on up in Valley Street.”

Input from residents was part of the hiring process. “It was clear really early on that we wanted a chief who has empathy and is just a positive spirit,” said Springfield Town Manager Jeff Mobus. He says Burnham has both. “One person doesn’t fix anything but I think Jeff is a really important first step.”

The most pressing issue is to hire more cops. The department is down eight officers. The incoming chief says he’s looking for candidates who care about the community. “A lot of the people doing this do it out of a sense of mission and to give back to the town and to serve people in a supportive capacity,” Burnham said.

Burnham officially takes the job on September 1st when he will be sworn in at 11 a.m. at the town hall.

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