Officials in St. Johnsbury have decided to get to the bottom of Wednesday’s protest — and the police response to it, which included four arrests for disorderly conduct — by hiring a private investigator.
Town Supervisor Chad Whitehead says he and Police Chief Tim Page quickly agreed Wednesday that they needed some outside help, especially where one particular moment of the protest is concerned. “We’re talking about the officer that was involved, that had contact with a woman,” Whitehead said.
At one point in the protest, a woman wearing white who was holding a sign appeared to tumble down the Police Department steps just after an officer made contact with her. Exactly how much contact the officer made may not be clear. However, video of the protest available on Facebook appears to show her standing on only one leg at the time. “We determined that what we needed to do was get an outside opinion about the whole incident, the incident as a whole, not just that,” Whitehead said.
The town is hiring DT Investigators, a South Hero-based firm owned and operated by retired former Vermont State Police investigator Daniel Troidl. “I’m sure that he’s going to want to see any video footage that we have and that has been made available,” Whitehead said. “There’s quite a bit of different video clips on that, and so he’ll review that. He’ll also most likely want to interview the police officers involved, as well as any of the protesters that are willing to.”
Troidl apparently can’t take the case immediately, but Whitehead said the town won’t have to wait long for him to do so. “He said it would probably be next week,” Whitehead said. “He’s done some work for us in the past and works pretty swiftly, so we would expect his report back in about two weeks.”
Whitehead believes DT Investigators will need to work for several days, so he estimates the town will be looking at a total bill of about $1,500 for the probe.