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What’s next for efforts to create Burlington Police disciplinary board?

Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 6:17 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - What’s next for the city of Burlington when it comes to police discipline? The City Council on Monday failed to override a veto by the mayor that would have created a new community police control board. Now supporters of the idea say it’s back to the drawing board.

“It’s disappointing. It’s incredibly disappointing,” said Mark Hughes with the Racial Justice Alliance. “There has been a disconnect, if you will, from some of the things the mayor has said and some of the things he has done.”

In December, the council passed the charter change proposal that would create a board of citizens and give them authority to discipline or fire officers, including the chief. It would also give them the authority to investigate a range of complaints including use-of-force. But Mayor Miro Weinberger vetoed it New Year’s Eve, saying the proposal had several problems and could have contributed to the shrinking of the police department.

“We do need to make further structural changes in the way we administer police discipline. We should have a system where a community board -- when necessary -- overrides a decision by the chief,” Weinberger said. “The charter change, as written, would have accelerated that and would have deepened what is a crisis.” He says he’s also concerned about the community board’s ability to be fair and impartial. “It really appeared in some ways that this was a board that was being designed to be hostile to the police.”

But the council was one vote short Monday night of being able to override the Democrat’s veto and it will not go before voters on Town Meeting Day. City Council President Max Tracy, P-Ward 2, says he’s frustrated voters can’t decide. “This was a great opportunity to get a sense of where our community stands on police accountability and we now don’t have that chance

Mark Hughes says now it’s up to the mayor to come back to the council with some new ideas. “The ball is clearly in the mayor’s court and those city councilors who sustained this veto,” he said.

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