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Community event to say goodbye to police chief

Community event to say goodbye to police chief
By Bryanna Allen
STAFF WRITER | December 29,2014

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The community will have the chance to bid farewell to Rutland City Police Chief James Baker from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Howe Center during a lunch that will celebrate his three years as chief and everything he has accomplished during that time.

Baker terminated his contract eight months early when he accepted a job with the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Washington, D.C., saying in a past interview that he needed a change.

Now, as his days as chief are quickly coming to an end, the city has decided to honor him with a meal and a chance to share words about his time here and the impact he has had on the community and those who have worked with him.

Larry Jensen, Rutland Police Commission chairman, recalled meeting Baker three years ago when he interviewed him for the interim position.

“He came here during a difficult time; we were facing a lot of issues,” Jensen said. “But he has developed plans and has helped see them through, so I think it’s time we really recognized him for his work.”

Jensen said Baker’s strength in leadership is one of his qualities that has created such significant change in not just the community, but also within the police department.

“He has improved the department by setting goals and raising standards,” Jensen said. “It will be hard to replace him, but now we know the kind of person we should be looking for, to help keep us moving in the right direction.”

Baker helped organize Project VISION — a collaboration among a variety of organizations and residents to unite the community — during his time as chief.

“It’s a chance to thank him for all that he has done,” said Joe Kraus, chairman of Project VISION. “To thank him and say goodbye.”

Earlier this month, Baker was presented with the first Project VISION award for his contributions and efforts that go toward making Rutland a healthier and more connected city.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, there will be speeches given and memories presented about Baker over the years, and Kraus said he hopes he gets the chance to say more about the man who helped shape the city.

“I’d be honored to speak more about what he has accomplished,” he said.

The meal is $15 and open to the public, said Mayor Christopher Louras, but seats are limited as invitations have gone out and at least a couple hundred people are expected to show, including Gov. Peter Shumlin and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Louras said.

“We are recognizing the great progress that has been made in the police department and in the community,” he said.

bryanna.allen@rutlandherald.com

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