The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is reviewing a state police report involving allegations of misconduct against Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel.
"The report was drafted by state police detectives following their investigation of a complaint filed by Addison County Sheriff Peter Newton. That complaint, originally presented to city officials and the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, alleged that Merkel had signed official documents containing “erroneous and patently false information” and knowingly failed to report demographic data for all of his traffic stops. The initial charge included a claim that the chief had filed hours with the city while also logging time with a state highway safety program and being paid twice for the same hours.
The sheriff also says the chief failed to properly report traffic stop data. The sheriff’s report said that of the 131 stops Merkel had recorded between July 1, 2018, and May 1, 2020, only 57 were entered into a collection system required by Vermont’s Fair and Impartial Policing policy. A study published in 2017 by the University of Vermont, titled “Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont,” lists Vergennes as having the highest instances in the state of pulling over people of color compared with their percentage of the population."
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