Former police commish chair concerned by Burlington Progressive’s reform efforts

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington City Council is poised to give the Burlington Police Commission broader oversight powers.

The commission has primarily served in an advisory role, but if approved by the full council, the measure would give the commission greater power to investigate officer wrongdoing and give input on discipline,

Jerry O’Neill served on the commission for nearly 20 years and says the proposal is a decent compromise but that a prior pitch by Progressives for a separate oversight committee would hurt recruitment and retention of officers.

“You want to attract good police officers. If good police officers are looking at the possibility of coming to Burlington, they don’t want to think a civilian review commission with powers to go ahead with decisions about punishment and the likes of that in place. You’ll destroy morale, which has largely happened already and will have a tough time getting police officers for Burlington,” O’Neill said.

He also says the proposal to impose a new system when there’s a union contract in place can’t be done.

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Can Burlington city leaders find common ground on policing policy?

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