Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison, SBPD Chief Trevor Whipple, and Washington County Sheriff Sam Hill at the Vermont Crime Victim Rights Week Celebration in Stowe where Chief Whipple was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

A Lifetime of Achievement: SBPD Chief Trevor Whipple Honored by the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services

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Thursday April 26, 2018

According to the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services (CCVS) the recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award is clearly deserving of a place in Vermont history beside other leaders in victim services. South Burlington Police Department (SBPD) Chief Trevor Whipple received that honor April 13 when he was given the CCVS Lifetime Achievement Award at the Vermont Crime Victim Rights Week Celebration in Stowe. Often called the Patrissi Award, after Judith and Jason Patrissi who worked in Vermont for many years in victim services, it is presented to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to victim services over their career and have changed the culture and practice of Vermont to be safer and more responsive to victims of crime.

Amy Farr, a victim advocate with the Vermont Attorney General’s office, said, “It is extremely difficult to quantify how Chief Whipple’s actions have influenced the attitudes, policies, practices, and other efforts that have supported crime victims. Chief Whipple is a quiet, but powerful force. Without calling attention to himself, he is present and ready and intentional with his actions. Consistently, over decades, he has been a reliable and trustworthy ally - honest and fair and willing to work toward improving systems that serve victims. Behind the scenes, and without need for attention, Chief Whipple is known for going the ‘extra mile’ to meet the needs of people and communities that have been harmed by criminal behavior.”

Chief Whipple said, “I was humbled and honored to be nominated and chosen to receive the Lifetime Achievement, Patrissi Award. I have always believed in a victim centered approach to law enforcement. During my 37-year policing career, I have come in contact with hundreds of crime victims and families of those victims. Many cases had positive outcomes but many also had tragic outcomes. I believe it is the duty of each and every officer to assist a victim to the best of our ability. This award will be one of the highlights of my wonderful career.”

Chief Whipple has served South Burlington as chief of police for 12 years. Earlier this year, he announced his plans to retire from the department in January 2019.

Gay Stratton was one of the individuals to nominate the chief for the award. Stratton has experience dealing with the impact of crime and the personal cost of loss. She writes, “Chief Whipple is deserving of this award. I have known him for 15 years now, since my daughter Tara was murdered at the age of 18 in January 2003, in Barre, Vermont. Trevor Whipple was the police chief at the time. During the days, weeks, months, and years, that followed her death, Chief Whipple has been the one who stood out to me from that horrible time as being so kind. He took the time to explain things and kept myself and my family updated on what was going on so we could understand it.”

Noting the chief’s patience and compassion, Stratton, says Whipple was a source of information and support during the investigation of her daughter’s murder and the subsequent trial. “Still, even after all these years, leaving the Barre Police Department to become the police chief in South Burlington, he has always stayed in touch,” says Stratton, adding, “I know I will receive a phone call at least twice a year, one being in January on the anniversary of Tara’s death and the other in July on Tara’s birthday.” She concludes, “Chief Whipple has made the most horrible time in my life more bearable.”

Understanding the significance of this mother’s nomination, Chief Whipple said, “In the case of Tara Stratton we were unable to serve her as a victim, but we were able to assist her family and honor her memory. It is particularly meaningful that Tara’s mom, Gay, took the time to craft a heartfelt nomination crediting me for efforts that simply should be part of every police officer’s job.”

Washington County Sheriff Sam Hill also presented a nomination in honor of the South Burlington Chief. Having first worked together in July 1984, he says, “Trevor has been drawn by public service his entire life,” noting Whipple began his law enforcement career as a civil cadet in Littleton, New Hampshire as a teen. Sheriff Hill further explains, “As a second shift patrolman, he convinced the City of Barre to allow him to work the day shift during his second shift schedule when he was not taking complaints, so he could work with the children in the local schools.”

The sheriff readily cites Chief Whipple’s professional accomplishments, from being one of the state’s first DARE officers to his skill in investigating crimes against children, as well as noting that the chief was part of both the first Special Investigative Unit in Washington County and the state’s first Child Advocacy Center. But the sheriff also shines a light on Whipple’s humanity. Hill remarks, “Trevor was always fair and went out of his way to assist victims and their families, knowing that an arrest is not everything a victim needs to heal from a traumatic event.” Recalling the time when Whipple, at the family’s request, took part in the funeral of a homeless person who was murdered, he says, “Trevor had maintained contact with the person through their troubled life and the family believed he was a positive influence and wanted him to be part of the service.”

Colchester Chief of Police Jennifer Morrison stated, “There is much that could be said about Trevor Whipple and the myriad contributions he has made to Vermont law enforcement.” Calling Whipple a leader, mentor, and innovator, Chief Morrison, who is also president of the Vermont Association of Chief of Police, remarked at the award ceremony, “Really, the most important contribution Trevor has made is the one we are here to recognize today. It is his contribution to victims and witnesses of crime. His compassion, his genuine caring, and his sincere follow through have made a difference to hundreds of families through the years. Somehow, Trevor has managed to balance the saltiness of a career cop with the sweetness of his pure humanity and true decency.”

Noting what it takes to perform the role of chief of police, Chief Morrison also thanked Whipple’s wife. “We all know this type of difficult and emotionally draining work is not possible without a solid support system. So, thank you, Kathy, for your support, for making it possible for your husband to do the work he does.”

The Vermont CCVS was created in 1991with a goal to provide compassionate, victim-centered services to victims of crime. To do so, CCVS collaborates with partners across the state, including individuals like Chief Trevor Whipple. According to CCVS, the organization’s annual awards “recognize victim activists who have inspired us through their acts of courage and compassion, programs, or individuals whose work has been particularly innovative and pioneering.”

Farr from the Vermont Attorney General’s office adds, “He is victim-centered, and trauma informed, he relies on advocates and community partners and, through his leadership, has shown that these strong community partnerships benefit all. He has exhibited, time and time again, a ‘can-do’ attitude and an unending clarity about the importance of a place for victim rights and services within the criminal justice system.”

Chief Morrison adds, “No matter the circumstance – tragic or tense, casual or formal – Trevor makes people feel respected, cared for, and valued. In short, he makes everyone around him feel better, no matter the situation. And that is Trevor’s gift to all of us.”

As Sheriff Hill puts it, “Trevor, from the start, wanted to help people and make a difference in the community.”


SOURCE: Carole Vasta Folley, The Other Paper