Former Williston police officer’s certification permanently revoked, though details remain under wraps
A former Williston police officer who a prosecutor said showed a ‘clear pattern of profiling and bias’ has been permanently barred from obtaining certification to serve as a law enforcement officer order in Vermont.
However, exactly what Travis Trybulski did to justify this ban has not been publicly explained.
After Trybulski signed a stipulation with the Vermont Criminal Justice Council in which he withdrew his objection to the ban, the Council voted 13 to 1 on Tuesday to pass it.
The lack of detail prompted one board member to question whether enough information was being provided to the public.
Evan Meenan, deputy director of prosecutors and sheriffs for the Vermont Department of State, voted against accepting the stipulation with Trybulski. He told the meeting that his concern was not the permanent revocation of Trybulski’s certification, but that the agreement does not say what happened.
“Five or 10 years from now, if someone is reading this, those additional facts that would actually support a finding of voluntary application of bias based on someone’s demographics are simply not summarized in this stipulation,” Meenan said.
The revocation of Trybulski’s certification stems from violations of Williston Police Department policies regarding fair and impartial policing and traffic stops on Feb. 4, 2021.
The stipulation passed on Tuesday does not refer to either side’s run, or provide many stoppage details. A one-paragraph summary said Tybulski left a welfare check to answer another call about someone knocking on the door of a residence and not leaving.
Eventually, the stipulation reads, police stopped a vehicle and Trybulski “obtained the voluntary consent of the operator of that vehicle to search the vehicle despite the absence of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that he there were controlled substances or anything else related to potential criminal activity in the car.”
Trybulski, who signed the stipulation last week, could not be reached Tuesday for comment. It was unclear from viewing the meeting virtually if Trybulski attended, although he did not speak during it.
“Both parties understand that (Trybulski), in entering into this agreement, does not state the accuracy, content or implications of the facts asserted herein,” the seven-page document states.
Criminal Justice Council Chairman William Sorrell, speaking after the meeting, said he shared Meenan’s concerns when initially reading the stipulation. He ultimately backed the resolution after the council debated for 90 minutes, about half of which was behind closed doors.
“What you heard in the discussion, at least from some, (was) ‘Why isn’t there more flesh on the bones of the allegation,'” Sorrell said. . “The explanation was that it was a negotiated settlement and it must be inferred that it was a compromise.”
Assistant Attorney General Jacob Humbert negotiated the stipulation with Trybulski or his representative, Sorrell said.
The board could not get a penalty greater than permanent revocation of certification, even though it rejected the stipulation, he said.
Sorrell said Trybulski was fired from the Williston Police Department “some time ago.”
Williston Police Chief Patrick Foley was out of the office Tuesday afternoon, according to a person who answered the phone at the police department. He did not return a message left for him.
Trybulski was the subject of a March 2021 Brady Letter written by Chittenden County state attorney Sarah George. Prosecutors prepare the letters, which can end officers’ careers, to inform defense attorneys of possible credibility and integrity issues.
George wrote that following an internal investigation into a “pattern of misconduct” by Trybulski, prosecutors’ ability to rely on his testimony in cases had been “significantly impaired”.
“Specifically, the incidents highlighted in the investigation show violations of fair and impartial policing through a clear pattern of profiling and bias,” George wrote. “Therefore, I do not want to call him as a witness and will not accept any criminal case from him in the future.”
During the Democratic primary campaign for Chittenden County State’s Attorney, Trybulski walked with Ted Kenney, George’s opponent in the race, to promote Kenney’s campaign.
In addition to the permanent revocation of Trybulski’s Vermont certification, his decertification will be reported to the National Association for Law Enforcement Standards and Training’s National Decertification Database, which hosts the national decertification index.
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