“It’s been a fun run,” said Washington County Sheriff W. Samuel Hill who will retire at the end of January after 18 1/2 years on the job and over 38 1/2 years of law enforcement work here in central Vermont.
“My goal has always been to try to help people in this job has given me that opportunity,” related “Sam” as he is mostly known, adding “Yes the system does not always work and the bad guys sometimes get away. It basically comes down to “knowing versus proving”.”
Sam was born and raised in Hardwick in a real law enforcement family that included his father, brother, uncles, cousins, etc.
His father was also a contractor and electrician and taught Sam good work ethics at an early age. He knew how to work on area farms and at age 15 he became a member of the Hardwick Rescue Squad.
“My first call was a gunshot wound to the back of an individual. That was at 3 a.m. and I got to sleep on the way back because I had school the next day,” Sam recalls.
Sam has a mild and casual demeanor but focuses very quickly when an issue arises.
When Sam graduated from Champlain College he was quickly hired by the Barre City Police Department and served there for 20 years–the last 5 1/2 as their Juvenile Officer investigating crimes against children which included sexual and physical abuse, supervise child sexual abuse investigations, applying for search warrants and wire warrants, preparing cases for court, coordinating investigations with Social Services and States Attorney Office that ranged from murder to lascivious conduct to child pornography to mention a few.
“I learned a lot from working with Barre City Police officer and later Chief Trevor Whipple on how to make better choices and how to heal hot situations whenever possible,” he noted.
Sam’s resume over the years with the Barre Police Department and as Washington County Sheriff which he was appointed to by Gov. Jim Douglas in 2004 and was successfully reelected every four years to present include: supervised School Resource officers ; taught Juvenile Law at the Vermont Academy; instructed DARE and other Prevention Programs; started Christmas For Kids Program of food and gifts for needy families; started Youth Public Safety Academy day camp for middle school students; plus receiving many commendations from his peers and continuing to serve on many local boards.
With so much officer experience Sam said he was somewhat overwhelmed when he became Washington County Sheriff in 2004. “I knew how to be a police officer but no idea of how to do the business end of it. And it really is a small business.
“Right off I had to complete a Homeland Security Grant and administer a budget for full-time officers, are many part-time deputies and office staff,” Sam recalls.
Presently the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is pared down to seven full-time officers, 13 deputies and two office staff.
Their duties include performing statutory functions of transporting prisoners, mental health workers and juveniles as well as serving civil process. Also responsible for security at criminal, family and civil divisions in Washington County and for the Supreme Court. Also contracts with 10 of the 20 towns in the county for motor vehicle patrols as well as a multitude of security and traffic functions throughout the county.
The sheriff is an elected office but there are no other requirements to run.
“Looking back at these 38 years I have to say I really had a good career. I’m super lucky in that I’ve had day shifts for 36 years and Monday through Friday schedules for 23 years,” Sam says somewhat amazed by it all even himself.
He has lived in Montpelier since 1987 and along with his wife Shannon raised three grown-up children each with different careers. And he’s only 58 years old.
“When I first started as an officer with Barre City in 1984, a long-time sergeant, told me he couldn’t wait to retire because of all the changes he had seen. If only he could see the number of changes today. Myself, I look forward to the transitioning out and onto something else,” Sam says.
There is an open house planned for Sam on Tuesday Jan. 24, 1-4pm at the office (Training Room) on 10 Elm Street in Montpelier. Parking will not be available at the office.
If you wish to send him a card of thanks please send to: Washington County Sheriff’s Department, P.O. Box 678, Montpelier, Vt. 05601-0678.
For further information contact Beverly at 802-223-3001 or Beverly.Worobok@vermont.gov. –GH