Hartford names Rutland commander as permanent police chief


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-25-2023 7:30 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Hartford has hired Rutland Police Commander Gregory Sheldon as the new chief of the Hartford Police Department. The hiring ends a nearly two-year period without a permanent top cop.

Sheldon, whose first day as chief will be Feb. 6, has spent more than 21 years with the Rutland City Police Department. In 2018, he was promoted to commander, where he oversaw the Patrol and Outreach divisions. He also served as the executive director of Project Vision, a coalition of over 300 organizations and agencies in the Rutland area that work collaboratively to address social and public health issues in the community.

“He has a proven track record of embracing and implementing the principles underlying the Hartford Police Department’s mission to provide professional, responsive and quality services,” acting Assistant Town Manager Paula Nulty said in a news release. “Chief Sheldon will prioritize community policing and leadership development within the organization.”

Sheldon holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and received a master’s degree in executive leadership from Champlain College in Burlington.

Sheldon’s selection, Nulty said, resulted from “an extensive search” by Nulty and acting Town Manager Gail Ostrout, in conjunction with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a nonprofit national organization, which interviewed community stakeholders, elected officials, town staff and retired chiefs and conducted a townwide survey.

The department has not had a permanent chief since February 2021, when former Chief Phil Kasten resigned after six years to move back to Maryland with his family.

Sheldon will replace acting Police Chief Connie Kelley, a 23-year veteran and the department’s third-longest serving member. Kelley was named acting chief in May, following the departure of former interim chief Brad Vail, who had left the previous February to become the chief of police in Barre, Vt.

The Hartford police union, New England Police Benevolent Association Local 405, expressed strong support for the town to make Kelley the permanent chief. Last November, the union sent a letter to the Selectboard to advocate for her candidacy.

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Kelley, who initially did not intend to seek the permanent role, did not submit her application until after the original deadline had passed. The Selectboard voted, 5-1, in December to accept Kelley’s application.

Kelley told the Valley News last month that she decided to apply after receiving strong encouragement from rank-and-file officers.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Kelley said she is “very humbled” by the support the community has given her during her tenure as the acting chief and that she looks forward to working with and learning from Sheldon, whom Kelley believes will bring great leadership to the department.

“I think he will do a great job here, and I think the Selectboard made a very good choice,” Kelley told the Valley News.

Daniel Solomita, the local union president, said the officers “are excited to work with Mr. Sheldon, as his credentials are impressive and his values align with our department’s.”

Sheldon did not immediately respond to an email request for comment on Wednesday.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or at 603-727-3216.