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Tuesday, February 26, 2002 - 12:00:00 AM MST
Officer in shooting worked three jobs
By TOM MARSHALL
VERNON -- One of the Brattleboro police officers involved in the Dec. 2 shooting of Robert Woodward worked 97 hours of overtime for the Vernon Police Department in the month before the incident, including more than 70 hours on the Vermont Yankee exterior security detail.
Payroll records supplied by the Vernon treasurer's office show Terrance Parker continued to patrol for the eight-person department through the month of January as a special officer, and has worked 55 hours this month at the nuclear plant on a special contract administered by the department.
He has continued to work a standard 40-hour week in Brattleboro since December, payroll records show. But he did work 12 hours of overtime there in late October and early November.
Parker and fellow officer Marshall Holbrook were placed on administrative leave with pay for 10 days following the Dec. 2 incident, and then returned to their patrolling duties with a partner in Brattleboro. They returned to administrative duty Jan. 31, after police union officials said the two officers needed a break from daily exposure to criticism over their role in Woodward's death.
Officials in both towns defended the officer's overtime work.
"He's not doing road patrols," Vernon Police Chief Randy Wheelock said Monday. "He has not been in the cruiser."
He said Parker's status on his force had been reduced since Jan. 31, when he was returned to administrative leave in Brattleboro. Prior to that, he added, Parker had served on regular patrol duties.
Wheelock would not specify the conditions under which Parker and other officers from Vernon, Bellows Falls, Dover, and the state police have conducted surveillance around Vermont Yankee. "It's a separate function, away from patrol," he said.
Several residents reported to the Reformer that they had seen Parker patrolling in a Vernon town cruiser since the Woodward shooting, but none could supply specific dates.
Parker worked nearly as much overtime for Vernon in December, billing a total of 91 hours -- 65 of them for the nuclear plant detail at $25 an hour. He worked 82 hours in January, with 53 at the plant.
Brattleboro Town Manager Jerry Remillard said he was surprised to learn of Parker's work load, but declined to pass judgment until a more detailed, day-by-day analysis could be done.
"I'm somewhat surprised at those hours, because of the fact that we've generally been running shorthanded," he said. The town is four to five officers short of its regular complement.
But officers' hours are generally compressed into four 10-hour shifts and three days off, Remillard added, providing an opportunity to work extra hours without getting over-tired.
"It's a little bit premature to say that he's working too many hours, period," he said. "We'd have to see how the hours matched up."
Acting Police Chief John Martin said Brattleboro officers were allowed to work for other police departments on a special contract, provided the extra duty does not interfere with their primary jobs. But Parker and another officer are the only ones with such a contract, he said.
"We're pretty saturated. With some of the officers, they're working close to seven days a week," Martin added. "Right now we have a lot of officers who are putting in four to eight hours after a shift. I think that's pretty exhausting."
Woodward, 37, was shot seven times by Holbrook and Parker. He had entered the All Souls Unitarian-Universalist Church in a panic, calling loudly for protection from the government and threatening himself with a knife. Though the Bellows Falls resident had no history of mental illness, witnesses described his behavior as psychotic, and said the Brattleboro officers shot him within minutes of their arrival.
His family has since filed a wrongful death suit against the officers and the town of Brattleboro, and Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has said he may decide whether to empanel a grand jury in the case by month's end.