Coronavirus: Burlington mayor to suspend police chief search for 1 year


The search for a permanent police chief in Burlington will be delayed for a year because of the new coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Friday. 

Weinberger said he thinks the virus will prevent the city from conducting a robust search to fill the position, especially since it would likely involve interacting with community members and bringing in candidates from out of state. 

“It’s my strong sense that many candidates who would have been strong candidates for this position are now being called on to serve in their own communities in this time of crisis,” Weinberger added. 

The search will resume in April 2021. Weinberger said that in the interim, recommended reforms and improvements to the police department would continue.

Morrison will continue as interim police chief

Chief Jennifer Morrison has agreed to continue serving at the Burlington Police Department in her interim role. 

Morrison will be temporarily leaving the department in June so she can relocate with her husband to Boston while he undergoes stem cell transplant surgery. Morrison said she will not be paid during this time. Deputy Chief Jon Murad will step into the acting chief role until Morrison returns, Weinberger said.


Brandon del Pozo served as Burlington Police Chief from 2015 to 2019. Here’s a look at major moments from his tenure, culminating in the Twitter scandal that ended his time in office. Burlington Free Press

The interim chief anticipates she will likely be able to return in late September or early October, but that exact timeline will depend on her husband’s recovery. Weinberger said Murad will continue serving if Morrison cannot immediately return when anticipated. 

Morrison will not be applying for the permanent chief job. 

“It’s not because I don’t love the city,” Morrison said. “I’ve now had 23 1/2 amazing years with the city. But, we really are hoping that my husband’s health will be restored to a place where we can do the things in retirement that we planned to do before he fell ill.”

Chief search had begun in January

Former Chief Brandon del Pozo stepped down in mid-December after he publicly admitted he had operated a social media account under an assumed name to troll a critic. Morrison was approved by the Burlington City Council to serve as interim chief.

The same day as del Pozo’s resignation, Deputy Chief Jan Wright also admitted that she had operated several social media accounts under assumed names. She later came to a separation agreement with the city. This month, Matthew Sullivan was promoted to that permanent Deputy Chief position.

GRAFFITI ISSUES: How is Burlington addressing graffiti during the coronavirus?

INTERNET SCANDAL: Social media scandal led to Deputy Chief Jan Wright to resign

BURNER ACCOUNTS: Burlington deputy police chief had fake accounts online

INTERIM CHIEF: Mayor names former Colchester police chief to lead department

RELIEVED OF DUTIES: Acting Police Chief relieved after  admitting to fake account

The search for a permanent chief was about two months in when COVID-19 was confirmed to be in Vermont in early March. A search committee was getting ready to review applications at that point, Weinberger said. Then, Gov. Phil Scott began taking measures to limit people’s movement and mitigate the spread of the disease, including by declaring a state of emergency. 


Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said he did the right in not disclosing former police Chief Brandon del Pozo’s activities or medical leave details. Burlington Free Press

COVID-19 is the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people at the end of 2019.

When the police chief search resumes, Weinberger anticipates it should take a few more months before he appoints a new chief.

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 802-651-4835 or Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.

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