Mayoral candidate proposes ballot question on falling number of police officers

Published: Jan. 24, 2021 at 9:47 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - One Burlington city councilor is pushing for a question to be put on the March ballot that seeks to address the falling number of police officers in the Queen City.

City councilor and mayoral candidate Ali Dieng wants voters to decide if the city should “maintain a minimum of 84 sworn police officers assuring adequate staffing levels to sustain 24-hour police patrols in the City?”

Dieng says he’s proposing this in response to police department officials reporting that they may have to cut night patrols if the number of officers falls below 76.

Dieng says he also thinks it was “a mistake” for the City Council to adopt the Racial Justice Through Economic and Criminal Justice in June. The resolution calls for the police force to be cut by 30% from 105 uniformed officers to 74.

Dieng says that decision by the City Council lacked the necessary research.

“We should not have done that at all. And I think that’s common sense. Anyone who has been elected to represent thousands of people should at least get the facts right before we make any decision but we did not do that, unfortunately,” Dieng said. “Now since we made a mistake, let’s ask the community what they really think.”

Dieng says it’s important to him that city leaders hear from all Burlington voters, not just the 1,000 voters, primarily Battery Park protesters, who have called into City Council meetings to voice their opposition to the police.

“We have only heard from young Burlingtonians, people who care about criminal justice reform. I completely agree with them in so many different areas but how do we do it is where I do not agree with them. I do not just cut police because 1,000 people showed up and asked me to do so. I would never do that. That’s not good governance,” Dieng said. “Twenty-two-thousand people show up to vote. We heard from 1,000. Where is the other 20,000 people that live here? Shouldn’t we give them a say?”

The City Council will vote on the resolution on Monday. If the council approves it, the question will appear on the Town Meeting Day ballot on March 2.

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