Criminal Justice & Public Safety

The home for VPR's coverage of criminal justice and public safety issues across the state.

The Criminal Justice & Public Safety Team

Follow VPR reporters Liam Elder-Connors and Emily Corwin on Twitter for the latest on issues of criminal justice and public safety across the state. 

Explore our coverage by topic or chronologically by scrolling through the list below
Opioid Addiction | Guns | Marijuana | EB-5 | Vermont Supreme Court | Vermont Department Of Corrections

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Lyndon Institute. In January, a 16-year reportedly made threats towards Lyndon Institute. Police investigated and at this time no criminal charges are filed.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

The Vermont State Police started tracking school threats after an averted school shooting in Fair Haven last year. Since August 2018, 35 threats have been reported across the state.

That’s more than one school threat a week since the beginning of the academic year. Of those reported, VPR has learned that only 10 resulted in prosecutors filing charges.

The January 2017 women's march in Montpelier was followed by what organizers called a Unity Rally on the steps of the Statehouse. The march addressed issues like racism and civil rights.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

The Vermont Human Rights Commission is a state agency whose sole mission is to protect and preserve the human rights of Vermonters. The small agency—just three investigators, an executive director and an executive assistant—works on discrimination in housing, state government, employment and in public spaces like schools and restaurants. Now the Commission's new executive director is pledging to take a more proactive approach to fighting discrimination. 

EMT Andy Luce, left, and Cabot Select Board Chair Michael Hogan, right, stand with the town ambulance, housed at the Cabot Fire Department. The town's emergency ambulance service will stop transporting patients in June.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A lot of Vermont’s emergency medical services are on life support thanks to declining volunteers and increasing costs. For some, time has run out.

Attorney General TJ Donovan announced the results of the investigation into the alleged racial harassment of former state Rep.  Kiah Morris on Januart 14, 2019.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Local branches of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union are calling on state officials to investigate the Bennington Police Department.

Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux swears in a room full of deputies.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A shortage of mental health treatment beds in Vermont has forced hospital emergency rooms to provide unprecedented levels of psychiatric care in recent years. Many of those ERs have used sheriff’s deputies to supervise violent or disruptive patients, but officials now say that practice runs afoul of federal regulations.


I was dismayed but not surprised to see the third Women’s March on Washington fracture over political differences. With accusations of anti-Semitism and other biases flying, women opted out of the march in droves.

Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press

I’ve always been puzzled by the anti-vaccine movement. As a former health care reporter in Maine and Vermont, I interviewed parents who declined to immunize their children. They struck me as generally well-meaning but misinformed when they insisted that the health risks of vaccinations outweighed the benefits, even when faced with scientific evidence to the contrary.

A 20-year veteran of the Burlington Police Department was arraigned Monday in Addison County on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

Brian Schwartz in his Green Mountain Technology and Career Center classroom surrounded by firefighting gear.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A shipping container filled with firefighting gear and school supplies from Vermont will soon make its way to Tanzania. It’s the result of a high school service learning trip last summer.

Hy Edelstein

A couple months ago, I clicked on one of those listicles you see online. In this case, it was something like 10 things you didn’t know about the 1960’s TV show – Bewitched.


Winter’s sudden arrival this fall marked the end of a large road paving project in my town. The resurfacing of a two-lane state highway that stretches forty-two miles from Rockingham to just south of Rutland is a busy corridor, and the project that slowed traffic to a halt all spring and summer led to more than a few frayed nerves.

Burlington Police car at night.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

A Burlington police officer has sued the state, saying she suffered three concussions and permanent hearing damage during a training exercise at the Vermont Police Academy.

Emily Alfin-Johnson / VPR

After Vermont passed historic gun legislation this year, lawmakers wanted to know if the state could play a role in performing background checks.

But a new report from the Department of Public Safety finds that because only licensed dealers can access the federal database system, the state will not be able to offer an alternative to running the background checks through gun shops.

Brian Palmer holds a flyer he is distributing to people in need of shelter in Lamoille County.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

After about a year of preparation, a homeless shelter opened in Lamoille County last week. But it’s not where organizers had planned, and the work to open cold weather emergency housing has turned out to be incredibly complicated.

Anti-Semitic and racist graffiti on a hay storage barn at Andersonville Farm in Glover, Vermont.
Jasper Hill Farm

Reported hate crimes went up in Vermont last year according to the FBI. It was the second year the state saw an increase, but the exact number of hate crimes that take place in the state remains unclear.

Will Lambek of Migrant Justice says a traffic stop and subsequent detention of two migrant farmworkers is evidence the state needs to strengthen its fair and impartial policing policy.
John Dillon / VPR

A recent case shows that when undocumented immigrants encounter local law enforcement, they may still run the risk of being turned over to federal immigration authorities. This happened despite a fair and impartial policing policy that discourages authorities from doing so.

Vermont State trooper cars parked.
Steve Zind / VPR file

Vermont State Police have been reviewing their use-of-force policy after several recent shootings involving police officers, and now the agency is looking for a consultant to review that policy.


The nation was appalled by televised scenes on America’s southern border of ICE forcibly separating children from their parents after a Justice Department ruling that to do so was legal and would deter further migration. Americans reacted quickly and the separations ended after a few days, although some several hundred families still have yet to be reunited.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl

Seven women – current and former students – have filed a class action lawsuit for seventy million dollars in damages against Dartmouth College for sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination. They claim the college did not take appropriate action regarding complaints against three professors in the psychological and brain sciences department.

The Rutland City Police Department in September 2015.
Nina Keck / VPR

Victims of human trafficking need help not from police but from social workers—which is why the Rutland City Police Department is hiring a case manager to connect victims to the services they need.