Police Chief Michael Kent is one of Burlington's most stalwart community advocates. Kent spends his days answering calls at the meeting with city officials to discuss criminal concerns and generally, making sure everything is safe in town.
“When people have a problem in town, whether it's a sewage problem, a rapid raccoon, even when a car won't start, they call the police and we are the first responders to everything in this town. I welcome it though — no call is too small,” Kent said.
Kent came to Burlington after spending 28 years in the Amherst P.D. He started at the age of 18 and rose through the ranks to become a Captain out at Amherst. Just last March, Kent jumped at the chance to become the Police Chief in Burlington and has been here this past year.
“Usually when you come into a department as an outsider you need a lot of work, but I could come right in," he said. "I think this was because Burlington has such a good, and educated group of officers […] Burlington is a well-run and very patriotic town, I haven't had a minute of regret since I came here."
Kent went on to explain some of the most common crimes he faces as a chief, and the town faces at large.
One, there are a lot of property crimes and crimes of opportunity around the Burlington Mall area. Kent recommends you hide your GPS, cell phone, or other expensive electronic devices when you go to the mall because many thieves like to use the big space and seclusion of the parking lot to break through car windows and steal.
Two, Kent mentioned that recently, “we've seen a significant climb through 2010 of 51-A's, child abuse or neglect.” The cause of this rash of abuse and neglect doesn't have a source and is one of Kent's prime motives in 2011.
And lastly, Kent said that, like all towns, “we deal with a significant amount of domestic violence […] Unfortunately, we lost our domestic violence worker who came to us through the REACH advocacy program, so we've had lots of extra work to pick up.”
The only other complaint that Kent had was that the Police Station itself is in dire need of repairs, or a complete overhaul.
“One big drawback is our Police Department is outdated," he said. It's a 100 year-old school house, I think in the near future we will have to look at a new facility, it's just putting money into the bad, when one thing is fixed, another breaks."
Along with being chief, Kent is a family-man who enjoys running marathons, having completed 46 altogether. Kent ran his 20th straight Boston Marathon this year. “I always felt it was good to stay in shape for the public,” Kent said, smiling.
Kent also mentioned that there is a big to-do for the BPD next Monday at the Town Hall Selectmen's Meeting. Several Officers are set to be promoted to various levels of accommodations. Kent and the BPD welcome the support of the community in moving forward with these honors.