Last Friday was quite the day for Brad LaRose.
Sitting through a retirement ceremony that afternoon, the former Essex police chief earned high praise from friends and colleagues who said he would leave a notable void in Vermont’s law enforcement community.
At least for now.
If all goes according to plan, LaRose’s retirement will mark the close of a chapter, not a career: News broke last Friday morning that he’d earned the recommendation of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D- Vt.) and Gov. Phil Scott to become Vermont’s next U.S. Marshal, which carries a four-year term.
LaRose offered little regarding his possible future employment, besides joking he’d keep his remarks short since he’d soon be under federal investigation. Instead, he focused on the lessons from his 39 years in municipal law enforcement, which he credited to many successful relationships, and thanked his family and friends for decades of support.
“The display of camaraderie and friendship here today has been very moving and will certainly resonate in my mind forever,” he said.
His peers and former colleagues, meanwhile, helped fill in the rest.
They painted a picture of an expert in the field, one of Vermont’s best crash reconstruction specialists and a loyal colleague, willing to offer guidance both inside and outside his own department. Plus, he’s a pretty good handyman.
“He’s often found changing lightbulbs, fixing furniture, installing equipment and even shoveling snow when it’s needed,” now- Chief Rick Garey said. “I think you can say we got our dollar out of Brad over and over again.”
Garey added LaRose was instrumental in planning to build the new Essex Police Department, which is regarded as one of the best in the state.
His influence reached well beyond Essex, however, proven by the array of insignia scattered among the ceremony’s crowd.
“You have modeled statesmanship and calm thoughtfulness, traits that I’m still honing,” Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison said. “You’ve taught me that some battles are worth fighting passionately, and others may not need to be battles at all.”
Chittenden County Sheriff Lt. Bob Stebbins, who went through the police academy alongside LaRose, recalled an exercise that forced LaRose to play the bad guy while two recruits tried to apprehend him. He pinned one to the mat. He handcuffed the other.
Then, and all the years since, LaRose has been the “paragon of courage and strength and fidelity,” Stebbins said. He added anyone who knows LaRose knows this: “If he came a running, the cavalry was coming.”
LaRose began with EPD in 1981 following two years with the Burlington Police Department and was named chief in 2012 after a yearlong stint as interim chief. He taught at the Vermont Police Academy for 25 years and is a Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy graduate.
Leahy and Scott cited this experience in their joint recommendation letter to President Donald Trump, also emphasizing the role in Vermont’s fight against the opioid crisis.
“Brad understands the challenges of this epidemic and the value of interagency coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement partners,” they wrote. “As a police chief, Brad
has contributed personnel to the joint drug task force and helped his officers transition into, and out of, undercover work.”
Established in 1789, the U.S. Marshals Service is considered the enforcement arm of the federal courts. The 94 district marshals, one for each federal judicial district, lead over 3,700 deputy marshals and criminal investigators, the U.S. Marshals Service Association says.
Marshals apprehend fugitives, transport federal prisoners and operate the witness protection program, among other duties.
Traditionally, senators from the president’s party make these recommendations, but when they’re not, the president defers to the state’s party leaders, the Congressional Research Service says.
Vermont’s highest-ranking Republican, Scott reached an “early agreement” with Leahy, the leading member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will act on the president’s eventual nomination, Leahy’s spokesman David Carle said. The full U.S. Senate must then confirm nominees.
Since it’s unclear when that will happen — U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan was confirmed six months after she was recommended — LaRose will have some time on his hands. Though that may seem like a welcome change after four decades, the new retiree might say otherwise.
“I’ve been thinking now: If this is the way it all comes to an end, I guess I should start a new gig tomorrow,” he said. “So in 39 years, we can meet back here and do this all again.”