Politics

Newport police chief DiSanto resigns after questions on leave, no-confidence vote

Newport Police Chief Seth DiSanto has resigned following scrutiny over extended leaves of absence and a vote of no confidence from his department’s union.

DiSanto submitted a brief letter of resignation Monday, according to a copy obtained by VTDigger, and the City Council unanimously accepted it during a virtual meeting Wednesday.

“We want to thank him for his years of service to the City and wish him and his family the best going forward,” City Manager Laura Dolgin said in an email Thursday.

DiSanto, chief since June 2012, went on an unexplained medical leave last July and remained out until the fall. When department reappointments came before city councilors March 16, they tabled a decision on DiSanto until April 6. He was the only major official not routinely reappointed.

Four days later, Dolgin placed him on an unexplained paid administrative leave. And during the April 6 meeting, councilors decided to indefinitely postpone appointing a police chief.

Councilors on Wednesday went into a 65-minute executive session to discuss a separation agreement between the city and DiSanto, said Dolgin. Officials will release the agreement seven days from the meeting date, she said. That’s how long DiSanto has to consider the agreement. 

The Caledonian Record first reported the resignation. 

Amid this year’s deliberations on DiSanto, the city’s police union wrote a letter March 10 to Mayor Paul Monette and council members requesting their members’ views be considered before extending the chief’s contract.

Twelve of the union’s 15 members wrote that they had voted no confidence in DiSanto. Their cited concerns included:

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“Trust in ability to exercise effective leadership; Clear judgement; Present ability to navigate dangerous situations; Treating Officers in a fair and impartial manner regardless of personal differences; Integrity; Bullying.”

Asked about the letter in April, DiSanto expressed dismay.

“The vote of no confidence is really disappointing,” he said. “I’ve done excellent work.”

In a statement sent to VTDigger on Thursday, DiSanto thanked the community for allowing him to serve. He wrote that he always aimed to make the best decisions for the city and its citizens, with the goal of improving safety.

“At this time I need to step back and focus my attention on my health and my family,” he wrote. “It has been an honor to serve and to get to know many of you and to see the progress being made to make the City of Newport a healthier place.”

He added: “My prayer for Newport is the same as it is for my family, that our best days are yet to come,” he added.

Lt. Travis Bingham, who Dolgin named acting chief when placing DiSanto on leave, will continue to oversee the department, the city manager said Thursday.

He has served in Newport since November 2004 and was the department’s K-9 handler from 2006 to 2018.

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Justin Trombly

About Justin

Justin Trombly covers the Northeast Kingdom for VTDigger. Before coming to Vermont, he handled breaking news, wrote features and worked on investigations at the Tampa Bay Times, the largest newspaper in Florida. He grew up across Lake Champlain in upstate New York, where he worked for The Buffalo News, the Glens Falls Post-Star and the Plattsburgh Press Republican. He studied English and political science at the University of Rochester.

Email: [email protected]

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