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Visiting Vermont police chief discusses heroin pipeline in New Haven

April 15, 2016



NEW HAVEN >> A new heroin and gun pipeline has taken root in, of all places, Vermont, according to Burlington, Vermont, Chief Brandon del Pozo, who was visiting New Haven this week.

During the New Haven Police’s weekly CompStat informational meeting, del Pozo described a way that dealers from New York and New England “triple their money” by taking the four-hour drive north.

Del Pozo surveyed the room, where 40 odd high ranking law enforcement officials gather every Thursday morning and asked how much heroin sells for in New Haven. A bag of the product, a few cops agreed, can run anywhere from $5 to $10.

“In Vermont, it’s double that,” del Pozo said.

In addition to this, Vermont’s lenient gun laws do not require permits, registration or licensing to purchase or carry handguns or shotguns, according to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. Del Pozo outlined the grim reality of how it is done: a dealer will drive over from New York or up from, say, New Haven, and buy a gun, shack up with a woman and trade drugs for sex, enlist local dealers or junkies to peddle his product and head home with a new weapon on his hip and a good deal of money in his pocket.

This is not a new problem. In 2014, Vermont’s Gov. Peter Shumlin used all 34 minutes of his State of the State Message, speaking about drug addiction in the state, according to the New York Times.

Del pozo oversees the largest municipal department in Vermont, overseeing 100 sworn officers and 38 civilians. He took the job Sept. 1 after 18 years with the New York Police Department. The new chief reached out to fellow Dartmouth graduate New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman looking to learn a few things as he wraps up his first year leading a department.

“[Esserman] gets a lot of national notice for his innovation, whether it’s community policing or ShotSpotter. I was excited to see if I could bring some of those innovations home to my own agency,” del Pozo said.

His three-day visit, which began on Tuesday, included a tour of the city, a chance to sit in on the department’s daily intelligence meetings, monthly pastor meetings and a visit to Yale Child Study, along with trips to two New Haven staples: Frank Pepe Pizzeria and Louis’ Lunch.

“New Haven is a city with great bones,” del Pozo said, “excellent universities, a great housing stock, a vibrant downtown and the waterfront. Burlington has them, too, and we also share challenges like drugs and strengthening police-community relationships. Chief Esserman has a national reputation for taking community policing seriously and it was great to come here to see how he uses it and builds on the strengths of New Haven to meet those challenges.”

New Haven Register