By MADELINE HUGHES
Hinesburg Police Chief Frank Koss has announced his plans to retire in June.
In a letter to the Selectboard last month, Koss explained that he is flexible regarding the exact dates for the convenience of the town.
Koss began working for the department 12 years ago, first as a patrol officer and then as deputy chief. This month he will mark seven years as chief.
Last year, Koss was named president of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police, a one-year office he will hold through May. Serving in that role “may have kept me here a little longer,” he said in an interview this week.
Now he is looking to his next chapter: retirement. Koss said he and his wife Deb will continue living in the community they have come to love. The couple moved to the area after a cross-country road trip brought them to the state.
“There was something about Vermont,” he said, adding he began looking for jobs nearby. The Hinesburg deputy chief position opened up, but he did not get that when he first applied. Instead, Koss landed a position as a patrol officer in Williston.
“That job allowed me to acclimate more to Vermont laws,” he said.
Eight months later, Koss was hired by the Hinesburg Police Department, where he has stayed for 12 years.
“How do you top Highway Patrol in California?” Koss said he asked himself when moving to Vermont. “In my 40-plus year career in law enforcement, being chief here is the best.”
Koss said he plans to continue serving as a volunteer firefighter, and with Hinesburg First Response. Koss also would like to ask his replacement to let him continue serving in the department as a part-time officer.
“This job has been super-supportive, which has made this job so much better than it could have been,” Koss said, adding his neighborhood has been great as well. “That’s a big part of why Deb and I want to stay here.”
As for the next chief, Koss said his successor “will have time to acclimate and make this department their own.”
The department is fully staffed, and the town is generally receptive to the needs of the department, Koss explained.
“I haven’t always gotten what I wanted,” Koss said, “but the board has listened and been as supportive as possible, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Koss reflected on his time as chief, recalling some of the more memorable moments, both happy and difficult.
Koss has enjoyed his role, which oftentimes can be serious, but he has made time for some lighthearted moments. Last summer, he did a shift in the dunk tank during a weekend public safety event. He visited with Santa a few weeks ago at the Fire Department, too.
“You have to have a sense of humor, especially in a small town,” he said.
In 2015, Koss stepped into the spotlight to speak out after a fatal car crash in which a motorist collided with bicyclist Richard Tom, 47. Both Tom and the driver, Joey Marshall, 18, were killed in the crash. Koss wrote his reaction to the crash in a column in the Hinesburg Record that garnered nationwide attention.
Also during his time as chief, Koss is most proud of the reconstructed police station along Vermont Route 116. The department currently uses the ground floor of the building. Its unfinished upstairs is insulated but not finished yet. Should another chief want to expand the department, there is room, Koss said.
“It’s a good building and there are good cars, all of which we have gotten with community support,” Koss said. The new chief will be hired by the Selectboard and the Town Administrator. At the board’s Monday meeting, members discussed the next steps, agreeing to form a committee to write the job description for the new chief and aid in the hiring process. They agreed to bring lists of potential committee members to the next Selectboard meeting on Jan. 14.
As for Koss’s feeling about Hinesburg, he said, “The people are great, the community is great. The next chief is gonna be lucky.”