Shotgun with the Sheriff

ridealongST. JOHNSBURY - The Caledonia County Sheriff's Department operates differently than other local police departments. News7 went on a ride along with Sergeant Bunnell to find out how.

According to Sergeant Bunnell, all of their work is contractual, making them act as a business, rather than relying on the use of tax dollars. The department has contracts with six towns in the Northeast Kingdom, in which they help to patrol and provide police services. Employees are paid and equipment is purchased with the money coming in from these towns. 

When a town is facing a persistent issue, they reach out to the Caledonia County Sheriff's Department to help relieve the problems. Bunnell says they mainly focus on speed and cell phone use, but can make a stop for any law violation. 

For example, Ryegate has a contract with the department to help cut down on speeding in problematic areas within the town. Some towns only utilize the department's services in certain months and various times of the year. 

Bunnell said, "It's not the same thing every day... you're out doing patrols, serving paper, helping people... it's a little something different."

As for helping people though, Bunnell says that is a confusing part of their job. He and other sheriff's are being paid to be in a certain place, patrolling certain areas. So when an accident happens, they are forced to call the state or municipal police departments and leave once they arrive. He says that a lot of people do not understand that, and expect them to stay. 

One myth that Bunnell laid to rest is that officers do not have quotas to fill on how many people they need to ticket in a month; they can ticket as much or as little as they please. However, towns that are contracted with the town do receive reports about the number of tickets and warnings handed out. 

If you are interested in doing a ride along with a sheriff to get a first hand look at what they do, you can contact the Caledonia County Sheriff's Department at (802) 748-6666.