Facing staffing cuts, Burlington Police present plan to deploy civilian patrol

Weinberger knew of Burlington police chief's anonymous Twitter account
Weinberger knew of Burlington police chief's anonymous Twitter account
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 1:07 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 6:10 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington Police have announced a two-year plan to address staffing issues at the department.

At Monday’s Burlington City Council meeting, Acting Police Chief Jon Murad said there is “no short-term fix” as the department is down 15% from the previous staffing levels. There are currently 81 sworn officers and they anticipate 79 by January.

Murad last week said budget cuts will make it impossible to properly cover the city as early as next month. The cash crunch stems from a June City Council resolution that required BPD to cut its personnel by 30%.

Murad says it takes about 14 months to recruit new officers and put them through the Vermont Police Academy. He says it could be another five to six years before the Burlington Police Department has 90 sworn officers again.

As a result, Murad says Burlington can explore the option of diverting some calls for service to civilian employees rather than armed officers. This would likely be for calls regarding homelessness, animal complaints, juvenile disturbances and noncriminal mental health calls.

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