Burlington Police oversight charter change vetoed

Published: Jan. 3, 2021 at 11:48 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 4:32 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In his second-ever veto, Mayor Miro Weinberger has shot down a Burlington City Council ballot item overhauling police oversight. Now, the ballot item goes back to City Council for a possible override.

In mid-December, the council passed a Progressive-led proposal seeking to create an independent community control board. The group would have the authority to investigate and discipline Burlington police officers. But on New Year’s Eve, Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, vetoed the proposed charter change.

Weinberger released a three-page memo explaining his decision, which reads in part: “My overriding objection to the proposed charter change is that as written it will contribute to the dismantling of the Burlington Police Department and compromise the City’s ability to ensure public safety.”

A June council resolution requires the Burlington Police Department to cut its personnel by 30%. Acting Chief Jon Murad says once the number of cops reaches a critical low, they will be forced to eliminate the midnight patrol. BPD did not return our request for an update on staffing.

City Council President and Progressive mayoral candidate Max Tracy argues the move won’t impact citizens’ safety.

“We are trying to create a clear set of expectations around police conduct, and any police officers who are following the rules shouldn’t have anything to fear under this kind of system because if they’re following the rules, they won’t have anything to do with it. They will just be able to continue doing their jobs,” Tracy said.

Weinberger said in the memo the charter must be amended, but he believes the police chief and the mayor should have a role in disciplinary measures. Tracy disagrees.

“We feel like the accountability is best served when you have an independent board that’s separate from the police department doing these investigations and making these decisions,” Tracy said.

During its Monday night meeting, the City Council will need eight votes to override the veto, which means at least one opposing councilor will have to switch their original vote.

Tracy tells WCAX News he’s discussing this decision with Weinberger Sunday and Monday, hoping both parties can come up with a compromise before the council convenes.

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

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