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Burlington City Council looking to fast-track police misconduct charter change

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 5:49 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2020 at 10:05 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington City Council is looking to fast-track a charter change on police misconduct cases.

Right now, the city charter says only the police chief has the authority to discipline an officer. The council is now asking the charter change committee to start working to revise that and change who can make final disciplinary decisions in use-of-force cases. They want an update next month.

They’re also asking the police commission to analyze what would be required to create stronger disciplinary measures regarding excessive force.

The council wants that report by the end of November. Councilor Brian Pine, P-Ward 3, says the council understands protesters' concerns, but change won’t happen overnight. “The meat of the resolution is really directed at looking forward and looking ahead on how we can make changes to prevent this type of thing from happening. It doesn’t as much address what has happened in the past, and that is what the protesters in Battery Park are demanding -- that we address what has happened in the past. That’s the most critical focus because that’s the demand today,” said Pine.

Pine also says ending qualified immunity will give the city the ability to hold officers who use excessive force accountable. But some municipal leaders don’t agree with ending it.

Another big topic of conversation is the protesters' safety. Every night, protesters have been marching from Battery Park to Church Street and blocking traffic along the way. City leaders say they are concerned for their safety and want to work with them to make sure they’re protected. They suggest protest organizers get a permit to close down the streets to make it obvious to drivers that the road is blocked off.

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