The idea of becoming a police officer occurred to Anthony Cambridge one day in 2005. This week, 14 years later, he will be sworn in as Hinesburg’s new chief of police on Independence Day.
Cambridge’s journey to his new role has come with some fated twists and turns, which he recently reflected on when he sat down with The Citizen for an interview.
Sometimes you just know
In his Hinesburg office, Cambridge, 41, began by telling the story of the love of his life, his wife Amy.
“Sometimes you just know,” he said.
In 2005, Cambridge was a college student in New Jersey. One day, because his then-girlfriend Amy’s car was in the shop, he drove her to work on what was supposed to be his last day of undergraduate work for his bachelor’s degree in history.
In his bag, he had an engagement ring. He’d asked Amy’s father, who had given his approval, and everything was set for Anthony to propose.
Cambridge was at the doorstep of a new life, but little did he know what was behind that door.
On that morning in 2005, as he drove down the 10-lane expressway in New Jersey, a tractor trailer truck hit the front of their car and drove away. The police never caught the hit-and-run truck driver.
Although the New Jersey State Police were quickly on the scene, Cambridge felt they were callous and less than helpful.
“[Amy] was in pretty bad shape and I was saying, ‘Help her.’ And I wasn’t getting the kind of response, even if they couldn’t help her, that I would have expected,” he said. “It made me think that I could do this job, and truly care about people.”
In addition to other injuries, Amy had a traumatic brain injury that affected her memory. The couple decided to put off the marriage until she would be able to appreciate the memories.
A change of plans
Cambridge decided that he wouldn’t go away to graduate school but continued as an undergraduate, taking classes to be a high school social studies teacher.
Eventually, the couple did marry, and Cambridge taught for three years at Manchester Regional High School in Haledon, N.J. But while he was teaching, he also worked as a volunteer police officer. He would help provide security for prosecutors or judges and work special events like elections and holidays.
Cambridge loved teaching but law enforcement had become a goal. He had not only been influenced negatively by the state troopers at the accident with Amy, by positively by police officers he encountered, starting in high school.
“The police had a large presence in the school and were such a positive presence,” he said.
He felt stuck in the classroom and wanted the opportunity to be out in the community.
Amy stood by him when he decided to leave teaching and attend the police academy.
“When it comes to policing, family life can be difficult, but Amy truly makes it easy,” Cambridge said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for her.”
Just after Cambridge graduated from the academy, Amy gave birth to triplets. The triplets were born prematurely – one at 24 weeks and two at 26 weeks. Ethan, Emily and Benjamin are now 6 years old and joined by their 2-year-old brother Grayson.
Home at first sight
Cambridge’s first job as a police officer was in South Burlington, where he and his family still live. He then joined the Hinesburg police force in 2013, and he and Amy are looking for a house to buy in Hinesburg.
Not unlike when he first saw his future wife, Cambridge said he knew Hinesburg was home at first sight.
“I knew immediately,” Cambridge said. “You go into stores and people want to know your name.”
His kids come to Hinesburg for Halloween every year, for all the fire department functions, for every Family Fun Day.
“We go to everything. There’s nothing we miss as far as Hinesburg functions.”
Cambridge said he thinks his relationship and commitment to the community is one of the reasons he got the job as police chief.
“This is not a stepping stone for me,” he said. “This is my career. I’m not going anywhere else, whether I’d gotten the job or not.”
Goals for Hinesburg
As great as he thinks Hinesburg is, Cambridge said there are things he plans to work on.
“First and foremost is getting some of the ordinances in shape as far as speed limits and some stop signs,” he said.
He plans to work on getting the state to extend the 50 mile-per-hour zone on Route 116 south of town in the Buck Hill Road area. Although the 30 mph zone was extended, he would also like to see the 35 mph zone extended so that there’s a longer transition before it goes back up to 50 mph.
He also plans to work on getting drivers to slow down on CVU Road in the vicinity of the high school between Route 116 and Pond Road.
“I don’t think people realize that the high school is always occupied,” Cambridge said.
“The nature of kids is that they are unpredictable. Right now, the only area that is a 25 mile-per-hour zone is a small area right by the entrance and I think that the 25 mile-per-hour zone should be extended,”
The interview with Cambridge was cut short when the chief was called to a single-vehicle accident on Pond Road on the eastern side of Champlain Valley Union High School. David W. Raymond, 27, of St. George, was driving a 2008 Aprilia Scarabeo 500 scooter, and had driven off the road and “crashed into a wooded area and a partial rock wall,” a press release said.
Bystanders started CPR before the police and fire departments arrived, but Raymond died. Cambridge said that indications were that Raymond had been speeding.
The fatal wreck was a catastrophic coincidence because it occurred just around the corner from the area Cambridge mentioned when the interview was interrupted.
It was another in a series of disturbing deaths of young men in this town.
“I’d like people to know that, when they drive through Hinesburg, they have to make sure they’re cautious,” Cambridge said. “We’re a walking community and we’re a biking community. We certainly don’t want another incident like happened with Joe Marshall.”
On Sunday morning, April 26, 2015, Marshall, 17, was speeding south on Route 116 when he hit bicyclist Richard Tom, 47. Both of them were killed.
“I had interacted with Joe Marshall many times and I told him, ‘You’re going to kill yourself or someone else. And he did,’” said Cambridge. “I did everything within in my power. I sat here with his grandfather and he was in the conference room crying his eyes out and we did everything we possibly could to slow him down. I pulled him over many times.”
Another incident that haunts him is the death of Tony Moran who died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a leaky exhaust manifold on Feb. 9, 2016.
“My last words to Tony Moran were, ‘You need to fix your exhaust,’” Cambridge said.
He gave him a ticket and Moran had the car inspected. Cambridge said it was an incomplete inspection and the manifold wasn’t checked. Moran died as a result.
This death hit Cambridge hard. Not only did he find the deceased boy, breaking his window out to find that it was too late, but he saw parts of his younger self in Moran.
“He was a struggling student who bought his own car and insurance and I was a struggling student who bought my own car and got my own insurance,” Cambridge said. “He did everything right. He got his car inspected and the system failed him.”
From cruiser to commuter
The new police chief has a framed photo on his desk of himself, Amy and all four kids with a Hinesburg police cruiser, a vehicle that he’d really enjoyed driving.
“My wife made me take that photo,” he said. “It was the last day of that car. It had been my car for the last five years. And she was like, ‘We need a picture with everyone in it.’”
So, Amy met him after work. They went out to an old barn and one of the residents came out and took a bunch of photos for them.
The next day the car was “de-stickered” and turned from a police vehicle into a car that was ready to be auctioned.
“November was the last time I saw the car,” said Anthony Cambridge. “And then on Christmas morning, it shows up in my driveway. My wife had bought it for me.”
She got it registered, detailed, hired someone to drive it from Hinesburg to their South Burlington home – in the snow – and put a big red bow on it because she wanted it to be perfect for him on Christmas Day.
While teaching may have been a safer vocation, Cambridge finds his law enforcement career rewarding in other ways, at the community level. He said one of the differences between teaching and law enforcement is that in teaching, there is often the reward of someone saying you made a difference. In policing, he said, “You see the negative outcome, but you don’t see the person that you told to slow down, and they do. It’s only when they don’t make it that you see.”
Nonetheless, Cambridge believes and always repeats, “No kindness is ever wasted.”
Fourteen years after that crash in New Jersey, Cambridge and his wife Amy have found peace and community in Hinesburg, Vt., where it seems those kindnesses are Cambridge’s reward after all.