By Judy Bass
When Vincent Burton was a student at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton years ago, everyone could see that he was remarkable. Quiet and dignified, he excelled at his studies and as a football player, but this gentlemanly young man’s uniqueness did not end there.
He had obvious leadership potential, as well as an abundance of character and maturity that his teachers and peers respected. At 6’ 4” and 250 pounds, he was uncommonly impressive in stature and demeanor.
“I remember Vince as a student and I knew he was going to be a successful young man after high school,” said Blue Hills Regional Superintendent Jill Rossetti. “He comes from a wonderful family and he is a role model and inspiration.”
Burton was going places fast – the only question was where he would be headed and what career he would choose.
On September 20, 2019, he officially became a police officer in Randolph, which is his hometown and the community where his parents, Vincent and Marylou, still live. It was the culmination of his education at Blue Hills and at Stonehill College in Easton.
Burton, now 25, concentrated in engineering during high school, but he was unsure of his path forward. “High school is a tough time to have that figured out,” he said recently. After graduating from Blue Hills in 2013, Burton kept his options open and decided to attend college, get a solid education and play football.
Stonehill was the college that “felt like home” to him. It was also where Burton’s prowess on the gridiron shone brightly, just like it had years earlier at Blue Hills. He played on the varsity high school football team from sophomore to senior year, a span filled with many impressive milestones.
Burton, a fullback, was Blue Hills’ all-time leading rusher, had the most points and rushing yards in a season, scored the most points of all time for the school, was third all-time in state high school sports history in points scored, and was in the state’s top ten in all-time yards.
There were also some very special moments that can’t be gauged by stats alone. The Blue Hills Warriors football team won the Mayflower League Large Division Championship in Burton’s sophomore year, and hurtled on to a Division 4 Super Bowl slot versus Shawsheen Tech. Blue Hills bowed to their opponents, 20-6.
The contest gave them an ideal opportunity to show their mettle as individuals and as a squad. There was absolutely no trash talking in the aftermath of that painful loss, no recriminations, no self-pity. Instead, Burton and his fellow Warriors vowed to get right back in the hunt for a coveted Super Bowl trophy the very next season, whatever it took.
Their determination and unyielding resolve paid off. Blue Hills won the MIAA Division 4A Super Bowl against Boston Cathedral by a score of 16-14.
It was an emblematic, unforgettable victory for the school, the team, and for Burton.
His philosophy now is exactly the same as it was back then: “Most successful people don’t let past negative experiences hold them down or hold them back.”
In fact, Burton credits sports with getting him ready to contend with life in the real world beyond academia and “handle what’s on your plate.” In college, he remembers having a packed schedule of classes as a criminology major, going to football practices and team meetings and doing piles of homework. All that relates to his duties as a police officer who must adroitly multi-task all the time and be prepared “for anything that happens.”
Burton’s interest in civic service – and the road to his current position - began at Blue Hills and Stonehill. Through Blue Hills’ Cooperative Education program, Burton did a stint at Randolph Town Hall working in the Town Manager’s office. There he happened to meet Randolph Police Chief William Pace, who is also a Blue Hills alumnus. He offered Burton an internship, which he did while he was in college.
As much as Burton loves being a police officer, he admits it’s definitely not easy. “It’s very difficult,” he remarked. “It’s all about being prepared and stopping things from happening that don’t need to. Not everyone understands the ins and outs.”
For example, Burton and his colleagues have to deal with their own and others’ emotions that, under duress, can sometimes run extremely high, he said. There’s the unpredictability of the job, too. “You never know what you’re going to get” – or how much danger it might entail.
For Burton, who works the 4 to 12 shift, it could be handling anything from a routine shoplifting incident to a domestic violence call, which he considers the most potentially hazardous type of assignment. His day finally ends at 11:50, when he has to decompress mentally and “flip the switch and go forward” as a civilian until his next shift begins.
Burton expressed deep gratitude to both his parents for their unqualified devotion every step of the way. His mother, who has long been involved in the community and with the Blue Hills Regional Booster Club, a group of parents who volunteer to raise money for student awards and activities, has been “very supportive.” Of his dad, Burton said, “He has always been there for me and showed me what it is to be a man.”
Burton has his own fatherly responsibilities as the parent of a 19-month-old son and a newborn. Despite everything he is presently tasked with, he finds time to contemplate his future.
He said he might want to someday be a higher-ranking officer. Whatever his goal is, it’s a pretty sure bet that he’ll achieve it with immense distinction.