Officer Jen Responds…and Educates

Recently, Woodstock Early Bird commented on the apparent need for better police public relations especially given new weapons and a new look for our Woodstock Police officers.

We are very grateful that Patrolman Jennifer Hutchins took the time to respond and to educate us a little bit – firsthand- about the training WPD patrolmen receive and some of the reasoning behind new gear. Here is what she has to say as a “comment” to Early Bird’s post:

As a Patrolman here in Woodstock for the last 7 years, I was ALWAYS taught to be courteous to the public – locals and tourists. I have also experienced, that perception is EVERYTHING. No matter what I say, or how I perform, someone is bound to be offended, and or unhappy, whether it is with my performance, or a previous negative experience with law enforcement.

As many of you have noticed, I have been sporting my black tactical bullet proof vest. It is the reccomendation that ALL law enforcement officers wear a vest on duty – regardless of how rural or “quaint” the local. It is becoming a norm that vests be manditory for all officers nationwide. To be considered for grants, departments must have a policy indicating mandatory wear. For those of you who have never donned a vest, I invite you to come visit me and try one on. To be able to function and move, wearing my vest on the outside of the uniform is the only option.

The bottom line is that I am still “Officer Jen” and still consider serving and protecting my community a priority. I am here to do the job, and perform the duties I have sworn to do.

I encourage the public to interact with the PD in a proactive manner. If you have questions and concerns, ask.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Margaret (Peggy) Kannenstine on November 30, 2012 at 09:40

    Nice comments, Officer jen.


  2. GIven that “perception is EVERYTHING”
    as Officer Jen says [Hi, Jen]
    why would one want the paramilitary (paranoid?) look
    to dominate the first perception?

    Feeding fear does not make any society more healthy.

    Maybe it’s just too late.


  3. It’s our federal tax dollars at work, it seems —


  4. Posted by Jon Norton on November 30, 2012 at 15:10

    Mr. Boardman…How is it wearing a uniform which you state is paramilitary is considered paranoid? A uniform is a uniform. So by wearing a uniform that’s comfortable for all to wear, that’s considered a “paranoid” look? Really? What would you rather the officer’s wear? How can we make them less authoritarian…I mean we don’t want police looking like police right? That would not show the right impression to our visitors……….

    So, our taxes at work Mr. Boardman in providing our officers bullet resistant vests is ? bad? Thanks you sir for wanting to protect your image vs. our officers on the road and the hard work they do everyday protecting us and our visitors. Instead of complaining about how they look, why don’t you go down there and shake their hands and show YOUR police officers that you got their back and appreciate all they do for you!


  5. Posted by Jen Hutchins on December 1, 2012 at 07:19

    Mr. Boardman [Hi Bill], I am struggling with your constant critisism of police. It is my thought that you, as a judge who has sat for many of my professional hearings, and a personal one, that you are supposed to be impartial? I know that you no longer serve Windsor County, I guess my question is, why are you so seemingly anti-law enforcement?

    As for approachability, I would love to wear an external vest carrier that looks like my uniform, but cannot spend the extra money to purchase one.

    Would you view it as more acceptable if I wore one of those? Asking me not to wear my vest, is like asking a fire fighter not to wear his turn out gear and SCBA.

    Again, I encourage the public to ask questions, and get to know our officers, before you need them.

    Jen Hutchins


  6. Posted by VermonterforLiberty on December 1, 2012 at 08:52

    I’m curious, how many times have the Woodstock Police fired their weapons in the performance of duty in the last 30 years, or been fired at. I understand the need to protect our Emergency personnel, like putting up blockades at the police station so they don’t get blown up, and making citizens use a phone to talk to them through the bullet-proof glass (hopefully all paid for by free grants from somebody else), but I think it’s a valid question.


  7. Posted by Diana Brown on December 1, 2012 at 11:48

    Please, Officer Jen, and all those who serve the public, in uniform or not, know that you are viewed as helpful and necessary by 99.9% of those you serve. The effort put forth by each individual (citizens and officers alike) to be courteous and respectful comes back to each of us in improved relationships and better understanding. Mr. Boardman, please read the careful words posted here by Jen, Julia, and others. They are sincere and without malice. Jen, you are to be thanked for your willingness to go on the record.


  8. Posted by Jen Hutchins on December 2, 2012 at 13:50

    In response to VermontforLiberty – I cannot track data for 30 years, however, you can search VT Crime statistics at

    I do know that at 2 am when seaching a building alone – with back up 45 minutes away, I am not willing to take the chance. To add some more perspective, consider that from I-89 in Quechee to Rutland City, RT 4 is the main corridor. How do you think the drugs get from CT and MA to Rutland City? Woodstock averages 13,000 cars a day, and nearly double that during peak tourist seasons. WPD does a lot of motor vehicle work, and I can assure you, that if drug dealers or curriers are transporting any quanity they are likely armed. VT is also a state that does not require concealed weapons permits, and Vermonters enthusiastically embrace their second amendment rights, myself included. At any given point in time, you cannot dictate a persons frame of mind. I consider wearing a bullet proof vest a sound investment in these changing and trying times.

    Please know that wearing a vest isn’t fun, It is an added 15+ pounds I carry all day, that restricts my movements, and can be extremely warm in the summer months. I again encourage the public to ask questions, or even come try on a vest.

    Thank you for all of your support and kind words.

    Jen Hutchins


  9. Officer Jen (et al, but mostly Jen):
    The first and necessary thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between (1) being “anti-law enforcement” as you aver and (2) finding any particular level of policing, police behavior, etc., to be inappropriate.

    To be truly anti-law-enforcement is to be essentially anarchistic. Tempting as it might seem at times, anarchism is not where I live. But even if it was, that wouldn’t be relevant to any issue I raised here. Suggesting that I’m anti-law enforcement is basically an ad hominem argument, by definition invalid, and irrelevant to to my opinion that an increasingly paramilitarized culture steeped in fear is not a healthy thing. Obviously that’s not a perception everyone shares, or even understands (judging by other responses).

    As to particulars, it’s first important not to be Woodstock-centric, although I’ve long believed Woodstock to be over-policed for a village of its size and nature. That’s a political decision and that’s just the way the Village wants it, and I don’t have a vote.

    The Village Police Dept. has, historically, had other difficulties, most notably for running a speed trap in many people’s eyes. As a judge, I observed first hand several cases where a ticket was given for an “illegal” left turn from Elm onto Central, when the reality was that the intersection itself was illegal. Tickets continued to be given long after the Village Police and Village manager were well aware of their non-compliance with federal law.

    To be fair, the Woodstock Police have not, to my knowledge, tasered an infirm man to death as State Troopers did in Thetford in June and they have not attacked non-violent demonstrators as the Burlington Police did in July.

    While I do not have direct experience of Woodstock Police harassing local young people, I have known some over the years who have felt that way, and a few were very believable. I hope it’s a thing of the past, or never happened.

    The paramilitarization of American culture seems to me to have been going on for a long time, and the intensity increased after 9/11 — for some good reasons (temporarily) and some unconscionable ones. But by now it’s become hardly acceptable as a safe topic of discussion for concerned citizens. [Everyone fall in line is an aspect of militarism, no?]

    By now you’ve probably figured out that my post was not about you personally in any way (re-read it with these comments in mind), you just had the bad luck to be the messengers (possibly even an example of no good deed going unpunished, as it were). My limited contact with you has always been pleasant and professional. You’ve always seemed to me open, direct, and quite likable. But that’s also ad hominem (in a good way) and also irrelevant to one of the American trends that disturbs me.
    Keep up your good work,


  10. Posted by Jen Hutchins on December 8, 2012 at 08:18

    Bill (aka Mr. Boardman),
    Thank you for your encouraging words.I especially loved “Woodstock-centric,” very appropriate. I hope that my community policing methods bring favorable light to law enforcement.
    My court interactions with you, and other Judges, have always resonated within my values – I consider this with each ticket or affidavit I write. Hopefully, making me a better officer.
    Jen Hutchins


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