New report recommends changes to the Burlington Police

The results are in and now they’re public. Burlington hired a consulting firm to evaluate the police department.
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 2:43 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2021 at 5:24 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A new report evaluating the Burlington Police and local residents’ perceptions of them, calls for better training for first responders, more access to community services, and better communication between the BPD and the community.

In the wake of cuts to defund the police last year, the city hired a consulting firm to evaluate the department and come up with ways to improve public safety operations. On Thursday, a joint committee made up of the Police Commission and Public Safety Committee approved the report’s executive summary.

“What does a safe community mean to you? What does a healthy community mean to you? How do we go about obtaining these visions,” said Charis May Hnin, a principal at Talitha Consults. She said their findings are a result of town halls, workshops, and surveys. Thursday, the city released the comprehensive report to the public.

“We made a list of ten documents to release to the public, the RFP, Talitha’s initial proposal, their work plan, a PowerPoint of their workplan,” Stephanie Seguino, a Burlington Police Commission member, said of what was posted online.

In the city’s summary, they said the purpose of the assessment was to strengthen the police department’s ties with the community. Data in the report from Talitha Consults shows officers are fourth on the list of who people would call during an emergency. They trail behind EMS services, the fire department, and family or friends.

“There’s going to be some fumbles from the city side or the process of risking, but give some grace to all those involved,” Hnin said about the process going forward. “We all want a happier and safer community.”

From the results came four major recommendations, including better training for first responders, more access to community services, and better communication between the BPD and the community. While Talitha Consult’s contract with the city is done. Charis May Hnin said the report is just the first step.

“Continue to work and partner with your residents,” Hnin said. “Wrestle with it. Being in a community together is messy.”

A recent spree of shootings and other violence downtown has left many Burlington businesses and residents questioning whether last year’s police cuts left the department with inadequate staffing for critical overnight coverage. Last week, the City Council in a split vote rejected hiring more armed officers until council members had more time to review the results of the Talitha report.

Now that the results are finalized, the city plans to send them to CNA Corporation, another outside firm the city is working with to evaluate the Burlington Police Department.

Related Stories:

Burlington police staffing guidance expected in pending report

Burlington City Council rejects police force increase

Queen City business caught in the middle of shooting spree

Authorities say Vermont facing police recruitment, retention crisis

Burlington Police Commission urges council to make staffing changes

Weekend shooting incidents in Burlington raise new concerns over police staffing

Community members react to Burlington shootout

Safety escort program in the works to protect downtown Burlington workers

Burlington Police address ‘emergency tier system’ amid week of violence

Police and local businesses weigh in after night of crime in Burlington

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.