No contract talks yet for Hinesburg police chief finalists

Photo by Deb Bissonette
Hinesburg Community School thanked retiring Police Chief Frank Koss on May 22 for his service to the community. From the left, Ava Norful, Max Howard, Adelynne Davis, Miley Clark, Leland Driscoll, Finn Taft, Drew Friesen, Koss, Devan Martin, Meg Roberts and Margaret Miller celebrate his 12 years on the job.

MIKE DONOGHUE
Correspondent

The town of Hinesburg is down to two finalists for police chief, but it is unclear who the selectboard hopes to negotiate with for the job.

Hinesburg Officer Anthony Cambridge and Swanton Police Lt. David Kachajian were among those interviewed by a special town screening committee and they also had separate closed-door sessions with the selectboard a month ago.

“They are going fine,” Selectboard Chairman Phil Pouech told The Citizen when asked about the negotiations on Monday.  It just was uncertain with who.

As of Monday, both finalists told The Citizen  they have not heard from the town of Hinesburg.

The selectboard, after a closed-door meeting May 15, voted 5-0 to begin contract negotiations with its selected candidate, but did not identify which one.

Pouech said Town Administrator Renae Marshall has been assigned the contract talks. Marshall said on Tuesday the town has retained an outside person, who is conducting a background check on the board’s pick first.

Marshall said she expects an announcement about the new chief in 1 to 2 weeks.

Cambridge, who lives in South Burlington, has been with Hinesburg Community Police since 2013. He is a former school teacher in New Jersey, where he also was involved in law enforcement. Cambridge also did a stint as a school resource officer at Champlain Valley Union High School.

Kachajian, who lives in Richmond, did police work in Massachusetts before joining the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in St. Albans.  He later worked 11 years for Montpelier Police and about two years ago joined Swanton Village Police, where he is now No. 2 in command.

The Hinesburg Selectboard met behind closed doors for 3 hours with each respective finalist – one on April 30 and the other on May 1 – and later had another closed-door meeting with its Police Chief Screening Committee.

The 9-member screening committee had several current and former town officials and employees, including one patrol officer from Hinesburg, a retired Burlington police corporal, a current city fire chief and a retired town manager.

They reviewed the seven applications that included Lt. Allen Fortin of the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department. Fortin created the Hinesburg Police and served as its first part-time chief from 1989-1995 while working fulltime for Shelburne Police.  The other applicants were a former captain with a sheriff’s department, two retired Vermont State Police members – a lieutenant and a detective – and an out-of-stater. 

Hinesburg is seeking a permanent replacement for Police Chief Frank Koss, who has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement, including five years as chief in Hinesburg.

Pouech said he was not sure when Koss would wrap up work. 

Asked if the town planned to have a transition period with the outgoing and incoming chief on board together, Pouech said, “I would hope so.” Marshall agreed.

Hinesburg is the 10th community in Chittenden County to have its police chief retire in the last four years.

Koss started his law enforcement career with the Anchorage, Alaska Airport Police in 1975 and left after two-and-a-half years to do security work before jumping to the California Highway Patrol.   He spent 24.5 years with the CHP, where he attained the rank of sergeant.

He began his Vermont law enforcement career as a patrol officer in Williston in 2006, but left after eight months to become the deputy chief in Hinesburg.

Through the years Koss has built a strong reputation as telling things as they are — not sugar coating crime, events or criminals.

His colleagues elected Koss a year ago as president of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police, whose members range from one-person operations to more than a 100-member department.

Koss is active in the public safety community.  He is the chief’s representative to the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance and serves on the board of the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, which focuses on sex and child crimes. 

He also is an emergency medical technician for Hinesburg First Response and a firefighter on the town’s volunteer fire department.

Koss is a retired chief master sergeant from the California Air National Guard.

The selectboard’s next regular meeting is planned for 7 p.m. June 5 at the Town Offices.

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