New RPD Chief Pleads Innocent

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Front Page / Aug. 10, 2017 11:32am EDT

Brunelle Faces Two Domestic Assault Charges
By Dylan Kelley


Daniel Brunelle, a longtime South Burlington officer, was hired as Randolph chief of police in May. (Herald File / Mike Donoghue) Daniel Brunelle, a longtime South Burlington officer, was hired as Randolph chief of police in May. (Herald File / Mike Donoghue) The newly-minted Randolph chief of police has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault upon his estranged wife after he allegedly pushed her into a refrigerator on July 29 and shoved her to the ground during an argument on August 1 at the home they share on Junction Road in Berlin.

Daniel P. Brunelle appeared in Washington County Court last Wednesday to plead not guilty to both counts of assault, which reportedly stemmed from arguments about ongoing divorce proceedings. In a written statement filed with the Berlin Police Department, Brunelle claimed he had an audio recording of the incident that occurred last Saturday.

“He said it would be my word against his,” read a sworn statement by Brunelle’s wife. “And since he was a police chief, he had many friends in law enforcement. I finally decided to call tonight, despite his threats,” read the notarized statement. “I did not push [my wife] to the ground, I didn’t touch her,” read Brunelle’s own statement, which also denied his wife’s claims of being pushed into the refrigerator.

“This also is a lie. I have never put my hands on [my wife] in anger. I have never hurt her in any way,” read Brunelle’s statement.

New to the Job

Brunelle, who was hired as Randolph Police Chief in May, faces a maximum of three years in prison and up to $10,000 in penalties if convicted. He was released on conditions, but was not barred from possessing a firearm due to the requirements of his job as a police officer.

He has since turned in his gun and badge and has been placed on paid administrative leave according to Town Manager Melvin Adams and Selectboard Chair Trini Brassard.

Arriving in Randolph with nearly 20 years of service with the South Burlington Police Department, Brunelle comes with a reputation of meritorious service and a record of advocating for crime victims, particularly those of domestic violence.

Brunelle was recognized with the Vermont Crime Victim Services’ “Ally Award” in 2014, and has also served on the Chittenden County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force.

After being notified by Randolph Town Manager Melvin Adams about the charges against Brunelle, the Randolph Selectboard held an emergency meeting at 8:21 a.m. on Thursday and went into executive session to discuss the situation.

Although she would not disclose details of any personnel discussions that were held during executive session, Selectboard Chair Brassard did confirm that the charges against Brunelle were the reason for the meeting.

“The discussion was mostly to bring the board up to speed on what was happening. No action was warranted or taken at this time,” she wrote.

“These cases have two sides to them and each case is unique and comes with its own challenges,” added Brassard, when she was asked about comments posted in response to her published comments in support of Brunelle.

“This case needs to play out in the judicial system, and we are poised to follow it and take action when appropriate,” she wrote.

“It was only after an extensive and comprehensive search that a selection was made to replace retiring Chief James Krakowiecki,” wrote Adams in an email late on Thursday. “The manager and selectboard maintain the same high degree of confidence and respect for Chief Brunelle’s experience and abilities as when he was appointed.”

According to Adams, no decision on appointing an acting police chief will be made prior to August 15.

“Until that time, and while Sgt. [Loretta] Stalnaker is at National Guard training, Sgt. [David] Leighton is managing the department,” wrote Adams.

When reached for comment via telephone on Tuesday, Brunelle explained that he was unable to comment per the advice of his counsel.

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