As the city continues working on a broader plan to restructure its public safety, the police commission voted to temporarily raise the cap on BPD’s officers.
The Burlington mayor says he will withdraw his veto if the City Council is willing to find common ground.
In June, the City Council voted to reduce the police force by 30% through attrition. Now that the midnight shift is at risk of going uncovered, members are searching for solutions.
Burlington police used force against 149 people in the first 10 months of 2020. More than a quarter of them were Black — a rate more than six times that of white people.
The department has lost 10 officers since June, and expects to lose more, in part because of a racial justice resolution that capped the force at 74 officers.
While it still needs approval from the city attorney, the new policy sets parameters around how Burlington police body camera footage can be released.
In June, the Burlington City Council voted to reduce the ceiling on the number of the city’s uniformed police officers by 30%, from 105 to 74. The department is nearing 20% attrition, and expects the officer count to fall below 80 by early 2021.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger briefed council members about recent racial justice initiatives. A resolution to allow outdoor fires was punted to the Board of Health.
Former Chief Jennifer Morrison said the council has acted irresponsibly cutting the force and has jeopardized public safety.
Some of Tuesday night’s 300-plus protesters have been at Battery Park ever since, sleeping in an encampment outside the Burlington Police Department.
While city officers are stopping and searching fewer drivers, the department continues to stop, ticket and arrest Black drivers at a disproportionately high rate.
It seems possible that amidst all the turmoil and anti-police fury that followed the killing of George Floyd last month, city leaders may be approaching a compromise solution.
It remains unclear how substantially the City Council will decide to cut the police department’s funding for the next fiscal year.
Burlington Councilor Zoraya Hightower questioned Acting Chief Jon Murad about police reform and a proposal to reduce the department’s uniformed officers by 30%.