Courts & Corrections

Police release video, but have no audio, of stop in fake-cop case

RUTLAND — A video of a traffic stop that led to a Rutland firefighter being charged with impersonating a police officer yields few clues because no audio was recorded.

A Vermont State Police trooper said in court records that after he pulled over Brent M. Garrow, 31, for speeding on Aug. 12 Garrow showed him a badge and told him he worked as an officer in Pittsford.

The video taken from the dash cam of the trooper’s cruiser is too far away to capture Garrow showing a badge, and with no audio, it’s not possible to hear what the two men said to each other. Police said the lack of audio occurred because the trooper’s microphone was not working.

The trooper, in an affidavit, said he let Garrow go with a warning, but later learned Garrow had been decertified as a police officer for more than a year.

The video released Wednesday by Vermont State Police shows the traffic stop lasted a little over 2 minutes, with the interaction between Garrow and Trooper Jonathan Hall taking only about 40 seconds before Garrow drives away with no ticket.

Brent Garrow
Brent M. Garrow, a Rutland firefighter, appears in Rutland Superior Court to face a charge of impersonating a police officer. Pool photo by Robert L. Layman/for the Rutland Herald

“Although we are very disappointed that there’s no audio recording, we’re confident that Mr. Garrow will be found innocent,” Sabina Smiechowski, Garrow’s attorney, said Wednesday.

Asked if not having an audio recording would negatively impact her client’s case, she replied, “No. We have a very strong case to prove his innocence.” She declined further comment on the matter.

Rutland County Deputy State’s Attorney Ian Kennedy, who is prosecuting the case, declined Wednesday to comment on the impact of the lack of audio on the case

Hall is shown during the stop standing alongside the driver’s side of the vehicle and Garrow is in the car.

During the stop Garrow does not appear to hand Hall any paperwork. As the trooper walks back to his cruiser Garrow drives away.

VTDigger requested “any and all” video and audio from Garrow’s stop on the afternoon Aug. 12 on Route 7. State police supplied the 2 minute and 14 second video Wednesday. However, no audio was available.

“Please note the body mic was not working at the time of the stop so there is no audio available from Mr. Garrow’s vehicle,” Heidi Storm, state police records administrator, wrote in the response to the public records request.

The only audio that can be heard is from inside the cruiser, and it’s mostly music.

The license plate on Garrow’s vehicle was blacked out and redacted by state police.

Storm, in her response to VTDigger’s public records request, said the redactions include “information that could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, “ and personal documents relating to an individual, citing an exemption to
Vermont’s Public Records Act.

Scott Waterman, state police public information officer, asked Wednesday for questions regarding the traffic stop to be submitted in writing, and later said he forwarded those questions to someone else in the department. There was no response to those questions, which included how unusual it is for trooper to have a body mic that wasn’t working properly, by late Wednesday afternoon.

Hall could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Garrow, a Rutland Town resident, was arraigned in Rutland Superior Court on Aug. 24 on the charge of impersonating a police officer. The traffic stop happened after he was pulled over in his 2005 BMW 325 for allegedly driving 73 mph in a 55-mph zone.

Trooper Hall wrote in an affidavit that he had been running radar in the U-turn portion of the highway when he clocked Garrow speeding. Hall wrote that he pulled Garrow over just south of the Route 7 rest area and asked him for his identification.

“Garrow had his wallet open and the officer said he saw a silver badge with ‘Police Department’ on it,” the affidavit stated.

“I asked Garrow who he worked for and he advised Pittsford,” Hall wrote. “While Garrow was grabbing his identification, I was able to see the rest of the badge, and identified it as a Pittsford Police Department badge.”

Also, Hall wrote, Garrow told him he worked for the Rutland City Fire Department. Hall said in the affidavit that he warned Garrow for speeding. Later, the trooper wrote, he discovered that Garrow wasn’t a member of the Pittsford Police Department at the time of the stop, having been decertified as a police officer.

Garrow had worked for the Pittsford Police Department as a part-time police officer for about five years. According to court records, he was decertified in June 2016 for failing to keep up with training requirements.

Garrow had been dealing with health issues about that time. He began medical leave from the Rutland City Fire Department around September 2015 as he awaited and eventually underwent a kidney transplant. He returned to the city fire department from that medical leave earlier this year in April.

Also, Pittsford Police Chief Michael Warfle wrote in an affidavit filed in the case that Garrow was suspended for six months from the police department following a motor-vehicle incident in August 2015 he was involved in on Route 7 in Brandon while on duty. Warfle added that an investigation by state police determined that Garrow was “untruthful” about the incident.

Later, when Garrow was decertified as a police officer in June 2016, he was longer considered an employee of the Pittsford Police Department, the police chief wrote.

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Alan J. Keays

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