Backlash over report from Burlington’s former police transformation director

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:57 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The future of police reform in Burlington is unclear after now-former police transformation director Kyle Dodson submitted his final analysis and city leaders say it came up short.

“It was lackluster, at best, and I think there should’ve been a lot more information and a lot more guidance on how we move forward from here,” said Tyeastia Green, Burlington’s racial equity director.

“We got an incomplete report with little in the way of recommendations of how we can transform public safety going forward,” said Max Tracy, P-Burlington City Council president.

Some Burlington city leaders say the final analysis failed to deliver solutions to police reform and public safety.

Green believes the eight-page report did not sufficiently address systemic racism or racial disparities in police stops, arrests and incarceration.

“I also don’t think he did enough with trying to figure out or explaining to us what the culture is like in the police department and how he used his temporary power to change the culture in the police department,” Green said.

Tracy says the city still doesn’t have “an actual framework” on how to discipline officers accused of misconduct.

“We still don’t have a model for oversight and that’s a real problem in my mind because we continue to have these issues with regard to police misconduct and we don’t have real accountability,” Tracy said.

Green and Tracy say if Mayor Miro Weinberger decides to hire another police transformation director, they hope that individual will have significant experience in policing as well as an understanding of the history of systemic racism specific to the criminal justice system. They also want them to prioritize collaboration with the public and police.

“If we’re going to do this, we all have to do it together,” Green said. “I don’t think the police should be elevated in that discussion. I believe they should come in at the similar ground as the community members who they are policing, who they are charged with protecting.”

Dodson did not have sole responsibility for delivering a plan for police reform. The City Council has approved the hiring of a nonprofit group to study how the department operates and how many officers are needed for public safety.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, declined our request for an interview about where he sees police reform going from here. Democrats on the City Council did not return our calls before this story was published.

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