Local police on alert after Middlebury rescinds Giuliani’s honorary degree

By Lucy Townend and Becca Amen

President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani holds a press conference following the November 3 election. (Courtesy Photo)

The Middlebury Police Department was put on alert last week following the announcement that the college planned to rescind the honorary degree of Rudolph Giuliani. Middlebury Chief of Police Tom Hanley said that the college and the department were “keeping the lines of communication open” in case of backlash against the Middlebury community, according to an interview with the Addison Independent. Such concerns were heightened by the increased activity of far-right groups in the wake of riots at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. 

On Jan. 11, in an emergency response bulletin, Hanley urged anyone with information about potential threats to submit a tip.

“There is currently heightened concern over the upcoming inauguration and other events that may be targeted for disruption. This affects everyone,” Hanley wrote in the bulletin. At the time of publication, The Campus is not aware of any credible threats that have arisen in Middlebury following the announcement. 

Giulani began serving as former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in 2018 and would later become a main contributor to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Following an editorial written by The Campus, Middlebury College rescinded his honorary degree on Jan. 12. 

Dean of Students Derek Doucet sent an all-campus email immediately following the announcement recommending that students call their local police department if they felt threatened or received alarming communication while not on campus. The email also noted that the Middlebury Police Department was available for students with similar concerns on campus. 

In an email to The Campus, Middlebury Interim Director of Public Safety Daniel Gaiotti reiterated the importance of student safety, but refused to comment further on any specific preparations. 

“Student health and safety is Middlebury’s highest priority,” Gaiotti wrote. “The college routinely monitors local and national events as they relate to campus safety, but it does not provide detailed security information for safety reasons.” 

These concerns were part of a wider movement across the nation to prepare for any violence in the days leading up to President Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. After threats of violence at state capitals across the nation, the Vermont State Police (VSP) heightened police presence in Montpelier from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20. The last press release from the VSP on Jan. 20 stated that “there had been no reports of any incidents, arrests or citations” in Montpelier in days leading up to and on Jan. 20. 

The Middlebury Police Department receives intelligence information from the Vermont Intelligence Center (VIC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to Hanley in a recent interview with the Addison County Independent. The VIC’s website states that it works in close collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to “identify patterns and indicators of criminal and terrorism-related activity in the state.