Castleton police Chief Bruce Sherwin has been in law enforcement for 27 years including a long tenure as a Rutland City police officer. The 54-year old Roswell, NM native currently resides in Pittsford. He is married and has five kids and took time on Friday to speak to a Castleton State College news gathering and writing class. Q. How does Castleton get a Dodge Charger as a police cruiser?
A. Last year it was time to get rid of the car we had. Officer McNeil wanted a Dodge Charger so I convinced the select board that the Dodge Charge was the best thing for the money. It came in at the highest bid. I’ve driven it once.
Q. How did you get your start in police work?
A. I was a high school drop out and then a mechanic at 16. I decided I didn’t need to go to school. A few years later I became friends with some of the officers from the city police and became a dispatcher. I went and got my G.E.D. and then my college degree. Charlie Spoon, the chief at the time, had referred me to the police academy. I left the city 23 years later as a lieutenant.
Q. What has been your most enjoyable experience on the police force?
A. We had a missing 6-year old. I was assigned to the case and we worked through the day into the early evening hours and used the media to get the information out. The child had gotten closed into a refrigerator. People called in and we found out that he had been seen playing in the back yard. We found him still alive. That was real positive.
Q. Have you ever stopped a crime before it happened?
A. I caught a guy with burglary tools and based on the time of night and location we charged him and the case stuck.
Q. What is your biggest fear as a cop?
A. Making a mistake that will get me hurt. As a cop you can never let your guard down. In a place like Castleton where crime is minimal, you may be tempted to let your guard down, but just because it’s a small town doesn’t mean its safe. You could stop a car on a highway and you don’t know it’s a guy who just killed a trooper. You walk up to the window, say ‘how’s it going’ and bang! Any cop that tells you he has never been afraid, he’s lying.
Q. Have you ever seen the movie “Super Troopers” and do you get along with state troopers?
A. I get along very well with state police and have seen Super Troopers. Other than a good laugh, that’s all I got out of it. When we’re out in the field we might as well be wearing the same colors.
Q. Have you ever found yourself in a situation you never thought you’d be a part of?
A. Yes. Some that I probably can’t talk about. I’m terribly afraid or snakes, I just don’t like them. I was doing a search warrant once inside a residence. I’m going through some things and put me hand underneath some bed covers. As I put my hand under there was a very large snake. It almost caused me a heart attack. It’s not the best thing to admit but I ran out of the house and didn’t go back in.
Q. On a day to day basis, what do you enjoy most as a cop?
A. I enjoy investigations. I enjoy thinking. I could go out and write tickets all day long on North Road and South Street, but that’s ‘fill in the blanks police work’. I enjoy working with other officers on a case and taking something from nothing and figuring it out.
Q. What are your opinions on the college kids?
A. 99% are wonderful, good citizens and not a problem at all. There’s that one percent that need to be educated first in manners and then go from there.
Q. What are a few things you have to deal with daily that make you wish you weren’t a police officer?
A. It has nothing to do with police work itself. It has to do with politics. The politics of small towns are the biggest headaches for me. It’s mostly lack of understanding.
Q. What did you want to be when growing up?
A. I wanted to be a game warden because I loved to fish and hunt. But that went down the tubes in high school where I was more of a socialite.