The South Burlington Police Department has sworn in two new officers, raising its ranks to 41.
Officers Elijah Domasin and Johanna Morse are state academy bound next week, and eager to return to the city as certified officers.
“This feels like a good number now, operationally and fiscally,” Chief Shawn Burke told The Other Paper.
The new hires fill vacancies at the department, Burke said.
Fully staffed, South Burlington Police Department has 44 employees. In the past, those additional positions have included a detective, youth service program officer and deputy chief. But the force is now fully operational, Burke said, adding there is time for him to assess any additional staffing needs. Should the department hire additional staff, they would not necessarily assume those three vacant posts.
“We might have to look at that a little bit and decide if we were going to fill out the 44, are those resources best served and used as detectives or would be better served and doing a better job for the community if we had those bodies back in patrol,” Burke said.
For now, he’s glad to see two new officers join the force. There were numerous applicants for the two positions, but Burke said Domasin and Morse connected with the force.
“We have a real special crew here at South Burlington PD and the officers are really committed and connected to the community,” Burke said. “That’s something that I feel is perishable; you have to have like-minded individuals join the ranks in that regard.”
Both Domasin and Morse seemed like a great match.
Morse is a Vermont native raised in Jericho. She attended Community College of Vermont where she obtained her associates degree in science with a criminal justice major. Her criminal justice aspirations derived from an interest in social sciences and the encouragement of her professor — and former South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple.
As part of her studies, she completed a four-month internship at South Burlington Police Department.
“Everyone here treated me like I was part of the team,” Morse said of her internship. “They were super welcoming.”
That experience and the department’s good relationship with the community inspired her to apply for the position, she said.
Domasin moved to Vermont from Los Angeles about six years ago. His draw to law enforcement came from a family history of service. Both of Domasin’s parents were nurses. Their efforts inspired him to obtain his licensed nursing assistant credentials, but he soon discovered a draw to law enforcement. His grandfather had served on the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Office.
“He won me over with all the stories, and how I could help people in the community,” Domasin said. He applied to the South Burlington, Burlington and the Vermont State Police departments but chose South Burlington for its welcoming force.
“It was such a warm and inviting atmosphere,” he said. “I like the people here a lot.”
The new officers are on week three of their pre-basic training. Pre-basic is a program South Burlington offers its recruits to prepare them for the police academy. For three weeks, the department shows its new officers the ropes of rifle and pistol use, use of force and other “motor skills” they’ll build on at the academy.
“There’ll be certain things that they won’t have to think about as much that their peers will,” Burke explained. “It just helps navigate the police academy process a little bit better.”
Indeed, Domasin said the pre-basic training has helped alleviate some concerns.
“I had plenty of worries about what was going to be at the academy but getting walked through it, step by step, during pre-basic has really eased my mind,” he said.
As for challenges after training Morse and Domasin said they know there’ll be plenty but that their training should help.
“I think that everything is going to be a little challenging because I’m going into a totally new world,” Morse said. “Having the pre-basic and then the academy is going to give me the skills to help set me up to know how to deal with those challenges.”
Down the line Morse would like to pursue K9 officer work and Domasin said he’d be interested in detective work.
Burke said he’s glad to say the department offers almost any position an officer could aspire to. “I’ve hired, trained, seen a lot of new cops come into the profession. I hope that their eagerness and desire to serve us persists for a couple decades.”