Outgoing Shelburne Police Chief James Warden has released a letter to the community through the Shelburne News, thanking the community as he steps down from the post he has held since 1987.
“When I was hired, I said it would be an honor to serve and protect you and the wonderful community of Shelburne as your police chief, and it truly has been 30 incredible years,” he wrote in a statementreleased Tuesday.
His one-page firsthand message came as local residents were organizing an appreciation rally for Warden on Friday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on the Village Green.
Last week, town officials and a lawyer for Warden announced they had reached an agreement about Warden’s impending retirement one month after news of a three-day suspension in July became public.
The agreement spelled out details whereby Warden resigned as chief, but will remain on staff as a consultant through the end of January to assist with the transition.
Deputy Chief Aaron Noble has been named interim department head as part of the staffing shuffle.
In announcing the agreement, both sides cited medical reasons for 78-year-old Warden’s departure at this time, although health reasons were not cited when he initially was off due to the suspension.
The agreement released last week indicated that the suspension will be erased from Warden’s record.
Warden’s departure after the brief suspension was abrupt, and the deliberations with the selectboard, town manager, and lawyers for both sides caught the community’s attention.
Warden said he found himself on the receiving end of many kind wishes from local residents.
“This kind of support is a testament to the kind of community Shelburne is and why I’ve been proud to be a part of it for 30 years and to work with a department of loyal officers and dispatchers,” he wrote in his message to the community. “However, due to health reasons, it is with bittersweet feelings (that) it is now time to announce my retirement and move on to the next chapter of my life.”
Supporters and friends of the chief plan to gather on the green late Friday afternoon. Organizer Linda Riell said she hopes Warden will attend, along with many who want thank him in person for his 30 years of service to Shelburne.
Before coming to Shelburne, Warden spent 10 years as police chief in St. Albans City. He started his law enforcement career in Pennsylvania, where he was chief for two police departments.
In his time in Shelburne, Warden made many friends in the community as a dog-obedience trainer. He worked with businesses and neighborhood groups on crime prevention and was known to don a Santa Claus suit at Christmastime.