Garey named Essex police chief

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Cpt. Rick Garey will begin as chief of the Essex Police Department on January 13. (File photo)

Cpt. Rick Garey, a 27-year department veteran, has been named Essex’s next police chief.

Garey begins as the town’s top cop starting January 13, the day after 37-year veteran Brad LaRose will retire from the position, said municipal manager Pat Scheidel at Monday night’s selectboard meeting.

Garey began with Essex as a dispatcher in 1989. He’s since held every position in the department and is currently serving as the town’s information technology director – experience that, combined with a “commitment to honesty and integrity,” makes him is a good fit to lead, Scheidel said.

“He came up A-plus on all of the review points, and I’m very confident in my decision,” Scheidel said.

The choice to appoint internally instead of conducuting an outside search stems from Scheidel’s experience with both approaches, he said. He selected then-Cpt. Leo Nadeau as chief in 2007, and conducted a recruitment effort before he handed the role to then-interim chief LaRose five years later.

“Management’s more of an art than it is a science,” he said. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for, and if you already have it and you’re confident about it, I will entertain those questions all day.”

Scheidel said recruiting for positions like police chief has only become tougher as police work grows in complexity. He doubted any searches would yield candidates more qualified than Garey.

Maintaining a stable police department is paramount, he added, especially during a time of change for the town and village highlighted by Scheidel’s own retirement next year. Having a chief who not only knows Chittenden County but the issues affecting the two communities, is “money in the bank,” he said.

Garey said that confidence means a lot to him and is the result of nearly three decades of hard work. He called it a great honor to serve Essex and to soon lead a department that receives so much support from the community.

He’s already begun to work with LaRose on this year’s budget, and said his first challenge will be understanding the position and all the responsibilities that come with it. He will also need to keep an eye on staffing, one of the department’s biggest obstacles moving forward.

Garey said a handful of officers could retire in the next five years, and the administrative staff has already seen a few longtime employees go, with LaRose soon to join them. He hopes to seek feedback from the community and stay updated on new technology that could help the department be smarter about where to put officers.

“I’m going to be very busy,” Garey said. “There’s a lot to learn in order to be successful and follow in in the footsteps of some of our great chiefs.”

The promotion comes less than a month after LaRose announced his retirement plans and two years after Garey earned the rank of captain alongside George Murtie, who retired last month — appointments that were part of the department’s succession planning.

Scheidel said he will now need to adjust the town’s IT department structure to replace Garey’s duties. He also expects to maintain the position of captain, though he’s yet to decide whether he will fill it before he retires.