Public speakers say Burlington mayor’s police cuts ‘not nearly enough’

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Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and the public have different plans for the police department. 

Weinberger proposed a $1.1 million cut to the Burlington police, reallocating $300,000 of those funds to a new Fund for Racial Equity and Police Transformation. This move comes in the wake of the public calling to defund (or move money away from) the city’s police department in light of national protests seeking justice for Black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor who were both killed by police this year.

Some members of the public expressed their disapproval with the proposal during Monday’s City Council meeting, which ran for hours.

“The fund reallocation is not what is laid out by the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance,” one caller said during the meeting. Names of the speakers were announced during the meeting, but were not listed on the Council’s website as of the following day.

These current demands include reducing uniformed officers by 30%; firing officers Joseph Corrow, Jason Bellavance and Cory Campbell, named in federal lawsuits pertaining to use-of-force incidents that occurred in 2018 and 2019; removing police from schools; and reinvesting funds into other avenues, like social services and communities of color. 

“I urge the council to vote against Mayor Weinberger’s pandering budget and to hold yourselves accountable,” another caller said. “Are you reallocating your funds as individuals? What work are you doing in your private lives to lift up the voices of the Black folks in this community? Do more.”

Burlington callers made their voices heard about the police in other recent meetings, including a Board of Finance meeting June 8 and an emergency Police Commission meeting June 9. 

“You plan has no plan to move money into Black and brown communities,” Emma Redden said of Mayor Weinberger’s proposal toward the end of the City Council Monday meeting

The potential future of Burlington police

Weinberger proposed the remaining $800,000 being cut from the police go toward reducing the budget deficit. 

More: Burlington mayor proposes $1.1 million cut to police department, fund racial equity

Other potential adjustments include reducing the number of officers from 105 to 93, shifting parking enforcement to the Department of Public Works and reassigning the crime analyst to the Innovation and Technology Department.

These proposed changes arrive in the midst of public reaction to an updated Burlington police use-of-force policy.

“The new policy contains many key elements, and incorporates clear requirements for de-escalation, duty to intervene, verbal warnings, and reporting all uses of force,” a news release from the mayor’s office stated. 

The public called into question an updated use-of-force policy for the police, arguing the city should defund the department.

The emergency Police Commission meeting was recessed on June 9 and 10. It will resume tonight at  6 p.m. 

More: Calls to ‘defund the police’ get louder in Burlington: What does it mean?

Contact Maleeha Syed at mzsyed@freepressmedia.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89

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