After nearly 30 years with Shelburne Police, Lt. Allen Fortin will be retiring Aug. 12, but don’t expect him to move from a cruiser to a rocking chair.
Fortin said his “retirement” will be all about one of his favorite passions: highway safety.
He is expected to become Chittenden County’s first full-time highway safety coordinator beginning Oct. 1.
It’s work Fortin has done part-time when not serving as the No. 2 person at Shelburne Police.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program has been asked to move the program to the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department and make the job full-time.
A grant request for $100,000 for a year for the program is pending, but is expected to be approved before Oct. 1, according to Sheriff Kevin McLaughlin.
The similar move happened in Rutland when longtime City Police Lt. Kevin Geno retired and joined the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department as its first full-time safety coordinator for that area.
Under the new arrangement, Fortin would oversee a separate $300,000 safety grant. Fortin will be working with area police agencies to create a county-wide effort to get impaired drivers off the highways, check for motorists using cellphones while driving, stop aggressive driving cases and issue tickets to motorists not using safety belts.
Fortin is well-known through Vermont for his safety efforts on several fronts. He was honored at a Vermont Statehouse ceremony last year for his work on child passenger safety, a focus of his since 2000.
Shelburne Police Chief Aaron Noble said Fortin will be missed at Shelburne PD.
“Everybody knows Al. He is a great people person,” Noble said. “He is well-liked, well-respected and I consider him a colleague and friend.”
Noble and Fortin came up through the ranks of law enforcement together. “Administratively, he has been a big help here. I wish him well,” Noble added.
“It’s been a great 29 and a half years. I want to thank the residents and businesses of Shelburne. It has been really wonderful,” Fortin told the Shelburne News. He said he found the job very rewarding by helping people in the community.
Between his retirement and his new position on Oct. 1, Fortin said he plans to visit family and make some long overdue repairs at his home in Hinesburg.
Fortin, who turns 55 in October, said he will not miss his 3 a.m.-to-3 p.m. work shifts at Shelburne Police. He will be moving to a 37-hour work week in his new post.
“It is Monday through Friday. There are no overnights, no holidays,” Fortin said with a laugh.
But don’t be surprised if you see him at a safety roadblock some weekend night.
The sheriff’s department role will have Fortin continuing to hold the rank of lieutenant. When not managing the safety programs, he also will have a chance to patrol roads in the county.
McLaughlin acknowledged that it has been hard for Fortin to oversee safety programs in the state’s biggest and busiest county as a part-time coordinator. That’s the reason for the request to make the position full-time.
The new job for Fortin will be funded for one year. Fortin said he will take it on to transition to a full-time program and see how it goes. So, for a while it won’t exactly be retirement.
“I was thinking of retiring,” Fortin said. “I don’t have to go at (age) 55. It’s not mandatory.”
Fortin added that he’s willing serve as a part-time officer in Shelburne, but he has not heard if that might happen.
Former Shelburne Police Chief James Warden hired Fortin in 1989 as a patrol officer. Six years later, Fortin was promoted to sergeant. He was elevated to lieutenant last year.
A Hinesburg native, Fortin moved to Monkton and graduated from Mount Abraham Union High School in 1982. He served in the U.S. Army for a couple of years before returning to Vermont, where his family opened a restaurant in Hinesburg in the mid-1980s. Fortin became the Hinesburg town constable in October 1987.
In 1989 while working at Shelburne Police, Fortin was named to head the new part-time Hinesburg Police Department. Hinesburg hired its first full-time chief, Chris Morrell, in 1995 and Fortin stayed on as a part-time lieutenant. He resigned in 1999 to devote more time to Shelburne.
During his career, Fortin also found time to serve the state as a deputy game warden for 24 years. He and his wife, Anne, are parents to three sons.