Laid Back Law Enforcement
Newbury, Vt., Constable Keeps Order
Glen Godfrey watches over the beach and directs traffic during swim lessons at Halls Lake Beach in Newbury, Vt., earlier this month. Godfrey has served as the town constable for 19 years. From left are Madison Driscoll, 4, Morgan Driscoll, 7, both of Newbury, Glen Godfrey, Alison Bruce, of East Corinth, and Fran Hunt, of Newbury. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Newbury, Vt., Constable Glen Godfrey takes a call in his apartment in Wells River last spring. Most of his calls involve noise, dog and domestic complaints. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Glen Godfrey shoots the breeze with Robert Engle, of Wells River, left, and Dan Perry, of Bradford, Vt., while waiting to take part in Wells River’s 250th anniversary photograph earlier this month. “He’s a good egg,” Engle said. “He’s got some pretty broad shoulders because we give him a lot of grief.” (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Glen Godfrey watches as Leo Cots, of South Ryegate, pulls out into Halls Lake to fish early. As a part-time job, Godfrey greets boats putting in at the launch two days a week, checking them for millfoil and other invasive plants. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
After finishing a lawn trimming job, Godfrey stops for a cup of coffee and conversation at the home of Maureen Colbeth in Newbury, Vt. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Logan Tuttle, 7, of Newbury, Vt., emerges from his car to surprise Newbury Constable Glen Godfrey with a jelly donut hole as he arrives for swim lessons at Halls Lake beach in Newbury. “I have fun with these kids out here.” Godfrey said. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Early on a recent Saturday morning Glen Godfrey, 60, of Wells River, chatted at the Hall’s Lake boat launch with Lisa Kelly of Ashford, Conn. Godfrey was there as a boat greeter checking for invasive species before boats enter the water, and Kelly rose early to take the dogs for a walk .
The two are well-acquainted because Kelly visits the lake every summer for a family gathering and Godfrey is a constant presence there greeting, or pushing his own kayak off into the still water to photograph the eagles that come up from the Connecticut River to feed.
Godfrey sipped coffee from a takeout cup, brought to him by another early rising friend, and reached out to pet Kelly’s two dogs as they ran off leash, a practice he would disapprove of in his other role as constable and animal control officer of the Town of Newbury, Vt.
But the mood was light and the dogs behaved as the talk centered around a call Godfrey responded to the previous evening alleging that Kelly’s family was stealing picnic tables from a nearby park. He knew who the culprit was likely to be, he said, since they have a big birthday party at this time annually. He went to the lake from his apartment in Wells River to address the complaint. It was easily resolved.
Godfrey has served the town as constable for 19 years, and hopes to make that 21 if he is re-elected in 2014.
“I love it, meeting different people,” he said. “I always get along with them.”
Godfrey practices a low-stakes style of law enforcement. If called out to a complaint, he prefers to listen to both sides and if he can’t come to a resolution, he calls the Orange County Sheriff or the State Police. “My policy is if you don’t want to talk to me I can invite somebody else and I can guarantee they won’t be as nice.”
It’s a quiet job, and though he is always on call, the most common reports of noise, illegal dumping and domestic disputes don’t keep him too busy. Most of his time in uniform is spent being a visible presence in town, directing traffic at parades and on Halls Lake Road between the swimming beach and parking lot. “Everybody knows me,” he said.