Our Firearms Instructors
The Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office has five certified firearms instructors, who work under the direction of Lieutenant Robert Stebbins. All of our instructors are certified as police firearms instructors by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, and have attended a variety of military and police firearms schools around the country. Two of our instructors hold First Place team trophies, from the Vermont Police Academy Firearms Competitions in 2005 and 2006.
Sergeant Scott Costella is a certified police firearms instructor through the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council. He served as a Marksmanship Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. before joining the Sheriff’s Office and is an accomplished shooter with pistols, shotguns and rifles, particularly the Colt M-16A2 rifle. He holds multiple Rifle Expert Awards from his active duty service in the Marines and is a graduate of the National Rifle Association Patrol Rifle Instructor Development Course. Sergeant Costella currently serves as a Captain in the Vermont Army National Guard, and maintains current weapons qualification and training on both the Beretta 9mm pistol and the M-16 rifle. He also serves as an Artillery Officer and a Unit Marksmanship Coordinator for the Army.
Deputy Sheriff Michael O’Neil has been with the Sheriff’s Office for over 20 years, and continues to serve as a part-time officer. Deputy O’Neil served in the United State’s Army as a Military Police Officer, and has extensive experience in repair and training with small arms of many types. He is a graduate of the Glock Armorer’s course and the Vermont Police Academy Firearms Instructor Course. Mike is a full-time career fire fighter, who has risen through the ranks from a fireman to his current role as the Chief of Burlington Fire Department, Vermont’s largest full-time, professional Fire Department. Despite his many duties as Fire Chief, Deputy O’Neil remains a law enforcement firearms instructor in good standing, and regularly teaches and attends update training as required by Vermont law.
Lieutenant Robert Stebbins is a graduate of the F.B.I. Firearms Instructor Techniques Course; the Vermont Police Academy Patrol Rifle Instructor Course; the National Rifle Association Patrol Rifle Instructor Development Course, the Second Marine Division Scout-Sniper Course and the USMC Scout-Sniper Instructor Course, located at the Marksmanship Training Unit in Quantico, Virginia. He was assigned to a sniper platoon at Camp Lejeune, NC and served as an adjunct evaluator at the Second Marine Division Sniper School. Lt. Stebbins also serves on the Use-of-Force Committee at the Vermont Police Academy, and conducts M-16 and AR-15 rifle training for a large local police department in Chittenden County. He holds two rifle expert awards from the Marine Corps, including the Battalion High Shooter Award for his 243/250 score in 1983, on the Marine Corps Known Distance Course in Okinawa.
Detective Sergeant Brian Welch has been in Law Enforcement for over 32 years. He started with the Baltimore City Police in 1978. In 1980 he joined the Quick Response Team. In 1983 he became a Team Leader and Instructor until 1985. He then joined the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration in 1985 and won the Firearms Proficiency award while at the DEA Academy. In 1987 became a certified FBI/DEA Firearms Instructor. In 1998 Deputy Welch became the first full-time Primary Firearms Instructor for the Miami Field Division of DEA. In 1990 He transferred to the DEA Academy, Quantico Virginia as a Master Tactical Instructor and help developed the current methodology of DEA's entry techniques. After working in the Baltimore DEA District Office, Deputy Welch was promoted to the Resident Agent in Charge of the Burlington Resident Office of DEA. in 2008, he retired from DEA to stay in Vermont and joined the Chittenden County Sheriff's Office July 2008 as a full time Certified Police Officer. Deputy Welch completed the Vermont Firearms Instructor Certification in 2009.
Corporal John Yustin is a certified forensic firearms examiner, who has testified as an expert witness in both state and federal courts. He has attended training at Blackwater and is a certified Bushmaster, Glock and Mossberg armorer. In addition, he has attended numerous other firearms schools, including the Vermont Police Academy Firearms Instructor Course and the SIG Sauer Academy. He currently serves as an adjunct instructor at the Vermont Police Academy and trains officers at the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy First Class Yustin is retired from the Burlington Police Department and had many years of service in smaller Departments, including serving as the Chief of Police in Vergennes, Vermont prior to joining the Sheriff’s Office in 2006. His combination of formal training and over 30 years of experience with firearms makes him a valuable addition to our firearms program.
Our Weapons and Ammunition
Chittenden County Deputy Sheriffs are issued the Glock Model 22 in .40 S&W caliber as their primary duty weapon when working in uniform. Our Department allows officers to carry personally-owned weapons with the approval of the Lead Firearms Instructor and the Sheriff, and several do. Our issued off-duty and plainclothes weapon is the Glock Model 27, also in .40 S&W caliber. Some of our officers carry the 10mm Auto, the .45 ACP and the .45 GAP as their duty weapons.
In addition, our officers are trained on custom-built Mossberg 12 gauge, model 590 police shotguns, with collapsible stocks, pistol grips and ghost ring sights. These shotguns were custom-built by Mossberg specifically for the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office. They have a satin nickel finish, to resist corrosion in Vermont’s frequently changing climate. We carry a variety of duty ammunition for our shotguns, including buckshot in both “OO” and # 1, as well as rifled Brenneke and Foster-style slugs. We also carry the unique polymer shotgun slugs made by Poly-Shok, which deliver devastating energy release, while minimizing ricochet and over-penetration, as well as the Quik-Shok slug which splits upon impact. Both of these speciality munitions were developed for use in urban environments.
Chittenden County Sheriff’s Deputies may carry their own patrol rifles once they have received the necessary training. Our Deputies are rifle marksmen in every sense of the word, and are required to hit a man-size target at least 27 times out of 30 shots, at 200 yards, using only iron sights. This is a marksmanship standard rarely used in civilian law enforcement, but we entrust our AR-15 and M-16 rifles to only our best shooters. Our Deputies with highly-specialized additional training sometimes carry fully-automatic M-16 rifles, chambered in 5.56mm NATO, or our M-14 rifles chambered in 7.62mm NATO, better known as the .308 Winchester. These weapons are sometimes used for VIP protective details or extremely high-risk prisoner transports, where we have identified a need for additional security and firepower.
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