The Vermont Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs is recommending that sheriffs be required to hold the state’s top police certification. Under current state law, sheriffs do not need to be certified law enforcement officers. But in a November report to state legislators, the department proposed changing the Vermont Constitution or state statute to mandate that sheriffs obtain a Level III law enforcement certification, the highest police certification in the state. Among Vermont’s current crop of 14 sheriffs, 12 hold Level III certifications. Two sheriffs possess Level II certifications, though Franklin County Sheriff John Grismore is expected to officially lose his certification next week due to a use-of-force violation. The proposed Level III qualification would bring a certain level of professionalism and skill to the sheriff’s seat, said Annie Noonan, the department’s labor relations and operations director. She said it would also ensure that sheriffs have some accountability to the Vermont Criminal Justice Council — which awards and revokes the certification — and not just to the people who elect them.
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