Montpelier, VT – Local Columnist Outraged By Police Handling Of Brooklyn Rabbi’s Vermont Traffic Stop


    During a hearing at Orange Superior Court in Chelsea, Vt., on Oct. 18, 2017, defense attorney Robert Appel, left, argues there is no probable cause to charge his client Rabbi Berl Fink with a charge of attempting to elude police during an Aug. 7 traffic stop on Interstate 91 in Fairlee, Vt.  APMontpelier, VT – A New Hampshire columnist raised serious concerns about tactics used by law enforcement after a Brooklyn rabbi was roughed up by Vermont state troopers in an August traffic stop.

    As previously reported on VIN News (, Rabbi Berl Fink drove for more than four miles on a Vermont interstate on a rainy August night as a state trooper signaled for him to pull over.

    According to Rabbi Fink, he did not initially realize that the trooper was attempting to pull him over and once he did, he continued driving until he located a safe spot to stop on the darkened highway.

    But an op-ed that appeared in Sunday’s Valley News (, which serves the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire, slammed Trooper Justin Thompson and his fellow police officers for displaying an attitude that seemed more appropriate in a war zone than on a deserted rural highway.

    Columnist Jim Kenyon wrote that he was both angry and frightened after viewing video of the encounter released by the Vermont State Police seven weeks after the incident occurred. Kenyon described the events he witnessed as a prime example of “what can happen when police bring a military mentality to their daily jobs,” noting that he has seen no move by officials on any level to “halt the growing militarization of police, both in equipment or attitude.”

    While the State Police Advisory Commission’s review of the incident determined that no misconduct had occurred by the officers at the scene, that decision was made during a two hour and fifteen minute closed-door session on September 28th.

    The public portion of that meeting last just two minutes long, said Kenyon. A request by Kenyon to discuss the matter with a spokesperson for the state police was turned down and he was advised that no additional information would be provided by the traffic stop.

    Attorney Robert Appel, a former director of the Vermont Human Right Commission who is representing Rabbi Fink, told Kenyon that miscommunications may have occurred between Rabbi Fink and Trooper Thompson, due to the stress of being held at gunpoint.

    “The state police see themselves as warriors, not peacekeepers,” noted Appel.

    Valley News ( reported that Rabbi Fink turned down an offer of diversion and a $300 fine to resolve the case in court because it would have required an admission of guilt, something Rabbi Fink was unwilling to do.

    Acting judge Charlie Buttrey refused Appel’s bid to have the case thrown out, moving instead to arraign Rabbi Fink, who was later released on his own recognizance.

    “Based on the trooper’s affidavit, I think there is probably cause to believe a crime was committed,” said Buttrey.

    If convicted, Rabbi Fink faces up to one year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.

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      • I agree with you. Rabbi fink might be in poor luck with an anti Semite judge in some hick town Vermont. We all agree this police was a blatant rough neck anti Semite. The judge might be too..

    1. What I learned from my brother [ex-NYPD officer], colleagues and acquaintances of color [guilty of “driving while black”]:

      1) Never argue with someone who has a gun

      2) When you see a police car behind you, slow down and pull to the right.

      3) IF the police car’s flashing lights go on, get to the side of the road and stop ASAP. Drive slowly.

      4) Turn on your dome light [over head light].

      5) If the police officer or trooper is still in his vehicle, and your license and registration are, and they are readily accessible, put them on the dashboard of your car.

      6) Keep both hands on the steering wheel or dashboard of the car.

      7) Roll down your window. Make eye contact.

      8) Do NOT make any sudden moves. If the officer / trooper asks for license and registration, and these papers are not on the dashboard, tell him where they are located [e.g. in the glove compartment] and ask if it’s okay that you get them. Once given the ok, do so slowly.

      8) Answer questions truthfully. Police and troopers can often tell when you’re lying. Avoid a chillul Hashem.

      9) Apologize and agree with the officer, and indicate you appreciate his concern about your safety and those of others on the road.

    2. Rabbi weberman didn’t take his plea deal of 6 years which means he would be out after 3 years with good behavior and got 110 years.

      Shiloh rubashkin didn’t take a plea deal of 5 years and got 27 years.

      And this rabbi Fink turns down a $300 fine for a chance of 1 year in prison

    3. The author is just a leftist anti police person.
      I feel back for Rabbi Fink, I’ve watch the video doesn’t look like the cop was targeting anyone, officer didn’t know who was on the car.

    4. This entire case, and the way it was handled by the state troopers, and their reviewing board, stinks! In addition to screaming at the Rabbi, whom he held at gunpoint, he forced him to walk backwards, on a dark highway, and handcuffed him. Then, the son was held at gunpoint and handcuffed. The same occurred to the wife and daughter. The two females were also frisked by male cops, which should not have been done; it should have been done by female cops. After the Rabbi gave up his rights to remain silent, the trooper was surly, and asked the Rabbi if he received any other traffic tickets. When the Rabbi stated that he received a ticket seven years ago in NYC, the trooper wanted to know that disposition. I’d like to know what a traffic infraction from seven years ago, had to do with this case?

    5. The Rabbi’s decision to fight the charges makes sense, and probably has nothing to do with the $300.

      According to the story, he would have had to plead guilty to a felony as part of the offered “deal” – living him with serious criminal record.

    6. In 1995, I received a traffic ticket for making an illegal right turn. I didn’t recall seeing any signs which told me not to make a right turn. Hence, I went back to that intersection with my 35mm camera, and took about 20 photos of that intersection. Sure enough, I was right; although there was a sign, it was blocked by tree branches, because the incompetent municipal workers where I live, were too lazy to have trimmed those branches. Hence, those branches blocked my view of that sign. I went to court, and showed my photos to the local prosecutor. After studying those photos, she had the ticket against me, dismissed. Unfortunately, very few motorists contest their cases in court.

    7. Why should anyone expect that the USA would be any different than pre-war Poland? My mother told me that in the old country if you even SAW a cop it meant at least a fine, to be paid on the spot. Usually it was also accompanied by a beating as well.

      It is more in the nature of the police mentality than a result of Antisemitism. Most cops have low self-esteem, were bullies as children, barely graduated high school with a D average, and whose total training in law enforcement consisted of six months in the Police Academy which included a two hour course on minority sensitivity.

      It should no be surprise that people with a boorish nature who are uneducated, poorly trained and who risk their lives doing what is essentially a dull, mind numbing job for meager wages would attempt to boost their egos by exercising their power over the meek.

      Anyone who ever engaged in a 5 minute conversation with a law enforcement enforcer officer can testify that this is true. It is the price we must bear for living in a non anarchic society.


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