Burke resident Brian Hawkins is a dangerous man.

So dangerous that Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS) employees assigned to supervise him have quit their jobs.

“We did lose a couple more staff this weekend because they are just too afraid of being with Brian,” said NKHS Senior Program Director Deb Spencer-​Tanguay in Caledonia Superior Court on Monday. “His behavior is very dangerous and has escalated to a point where he’s dangerous - he’s been dangerous to himself but also the community.”

Judge Michael J. Harris also voiced concerns.

“He’s not been consistent taking his medication,” said Harris. “And my understanding is he may have had some assaultive type of conduct towards caregivers prior to these two incidents - although law enforcement was not contacted.”

Caledonia Superior Court

And while Hawkins is currently undergoing an inpatient mental health competency evaluation related to recent criminal charges of assault and disorderly conduct, he could very easily end up right back in the Burke community.

Hawkins, 44, was charged in late June after being arrested by the Vermont State Police for allegedly jumping into cars near his mobile home at 696 Burke Green Road in Burke and demanding rides to Newport. He’s also accused of assaulting NKHS staff members and the driver of a nearby farm tractor.

According to court documents, Hawkins was living at the trailer under 24-hour supervision by two NKHS staff members when the alleged criminal incidents occurred.

On Monday, Judge Harris held a status conference to discuss what should be done with Hawkins if he is released from the hospital following his evaluation.

Spencer-​Tanguay told the court NKHS was working on two different options. One is to send Hawkins to a “more restrictive setting” but that option will not be available for 60 days. The second option is to just send him back home to Burke - as soon as NKHS can find employees who are willing to supervise him.

“We are looking to place him back in the Burke trailer,” said Spencer-​Tanguay. “We are diligently trying to staff it…to create a situation where his trailer where he’s been living would be a safe place for him to be.”

Judge Harris not only seemed to agree with the return-to-Burke plan but suggested it could be decided without a public hearing.

“Say the Northeast Kingdom (Human) Services with additional wrap-around or staffing are able to, in their view, place him back at the mobile home where he had been staying,” said Judge Harris. “I’d like to be able to do that perhaps by (agreement) without a hearing…”

Deputy State’s Attorney Tom Paul, who is prosecuting the criminal case against Hawkins, told the court he would be asking for a condition of release prohibiting Hawkins from engaging in violent or threatening behavior.

Judge Harris then asked Spencer-​Tanguay if NKHS could “remind” Hawkins about the conditions of release to help moderate his behavior and hopefully prevent future violations or crimes.

“Yes, your honor,” said Spencer-​Tanguay. “I spent quite a few hours with him yesterday and talking with him about some of the things that we would need to put in place for him to be able to be safe in the community, and that’s around his violent tenancies.”

The court is now waiting for the results of Hawkins’ mental health competency evaluation before it decides which way to proceed.

June Charges

According to court documents, Vermont State Police were called to Burke Green Road twice on June 27 for reports that Hawkins was out of control despite being under constant supervision at the NKHS facility on Burke Green Road by two staff members including NKHS employee Cole Hosford, 18.

“Hosford said that Hawkins climbed a farm tractor on this road and struck the operator of the tractor when the operator refused to give him a ride to Newport,” wrote VSP Tpr. David Garces in his affidavit filed in support of the criminal charges against Hawkins.

Hosford also told police that he was assaulted by Hawkins after he tried to stop him from jumping in front of another vehicle “full of family members,” wrote Tpr. Garces. “Hosford said that Hawkins slapped him in the head when he attempted to stop him.”

Police said they also responded earlier in the day for a similar incident involving Hawkins.

“In this incident Hawkins stopped a vehicle on the road and opened the drivers’ side back door and got in the vehicle because he wanted to go to Newport,” wrote Tpr. Garces. “The passenger in this vehicle tried to pull Hawkins out of the vehicle and Hawkins became assaultive with him.”

After taking Hawkins into custody, state police consulted with NKHS officials about how to proceed next.

“I spoke to NKHS caseworker Carol Simmons and she advised she had no protocol or plan for him other than bringing him back to the NKHS house,” wrote Tpr. Garces. “I spoke to NKHS crisis workers and they advised they could not hold him either and referred us back to Carol Simmons. NKHS was in agreement that holding Hawkins in jail would be the best option for him as they could not physically control him.”

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