Weinberger addresses shrinking Burlington police force

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 5:58 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Hours ahead of Monday night’s Burlington City Council meeting, Mayor Miro Weinberger released what he calls the Public Safety Continuity Plan to address the shrinking of the Burlington Police Department since the City Council voted to reduce the force by 30% last June.

He wants three things done: Raise the cap on sworn officers from 74 to 84, add four community service officers and add a community service liaison position that would provide support for people who have come into contact with police and are suffering from opioid use disorder.

Mayor Weinberger says the City Council made the decision to cut the police force without any backup plan to address the potential fallout from losing that many officers, and now the city has only 41 officers available for patrol.

He says when that number falls into the high 30s, the police will have to curtail services such as reassigning the domestic violence prevention officer.

Weinberger says he’s urging the City Council to take action on this Monday night to correct what he called a problematic vote they took up last summer.

“My perspective is that this is a fundamental responsibility of city government. We need to take action to ensure that we can continue to provide the services that Burlingtonians expect, while we continue to do the due diligence, the analysis work, the assessment, to see if there are different ways we can do things in the future. We need a plan now. We need the resources today to do the work the Burlingtonians expect,” said Weinberger, D-Burlington.

I also asked Mayor Weinberger if he thinks the council, which has a Progressive majority, will vote in favor of this plan. He said that’s uncertain and he says to his disappointment, many councilors remain unwilling to act.

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