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Weinberger addresses scourge of downtown gunfire

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington Mayor Miro Wednesday addressed the scourge of recent gun-related incidents downtown, including a primary school that was forced to close Friday after a bullet hole was found in a window.

The episode at Edmunds Elementary and Middle Schools was the 12th gunfire incident of the year -- a record for the Queen City. It comes as Progressives on the City Council feud with the mayor and Democrats over the merits of efforts to defund the police last year that have resulted in overnight staffing issues and contributed to morale problems at the department.

We wanted to know what is being done in the short-term to protect public safety. Weinberger says that now that college students are back, he’s hopeful that having more people downtown will deter the kinds of recent gun battles caught on surveillance video, and help promote public safety. He also says there are limits to what they can do in the short term, especially as it takes up to a year to train new police officers.

With this week’s City Council meeting canceled, Weinberger said on the 13th he will propose significant new resources to the council to help stabilize the police and ensure they do not lose more officers. “We are taking the action we can already. We are seeking new authority from the City Council just days from now and we are working very hard to see the buildout of these longer-term CSL acute mental health response models all at the same time,” he said.

The city recently contracted with a private firm to patrol City Hall Park during the day, and the mayor says they will be exploring expanding those services into the night. He also said the police look at staffing each month and adjust resources to where the need is greatest.

The city also just hired its first community service liaison position to help support people experiencing mental health issues.

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