Burlington officials discuss police budget reallocation

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 12:44 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2020 at 11:46 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - City leaders in Burlington are continuing to map out the future of public safety in the Queen City after calls this summer to defund the police and reallocate spending. On Thursday, officials held the first joint meeting of the Police Commission and Public Safety Committee.

The group plans to seek community feedback on what people want to see out of the Burlington Police, as well as do a formal assessment of the department.

It comes as the City Council voted to reduce the department by 30% through attrition.

First on the agenda Thursday was hearing from the Howard Center’s Street Outreach Program, which responds to mental health calls in the city. Leaders from the program say they can do the bulk of their work without police if the city is safe enough for social workers. They also say they rely on officers to be there for safety, support and to legally do certain work.

“What you are trying to do is really necessary. I just really ask you to be careful about the balance because there’s a tipping point,” said the center’s Tammy Boudah.

The Howard Center says Burlington Police will reach out to the Street Outreach Team when there is a mental health concern or a need for social service.

According to the center, Burlington Police reached out for assistance 440 times from May 31, 2019, to June 2020.

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