Burlington mayor, City Council at odds over search for police chief

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 6:09 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington City councilors on Monday will take up another resolution regarding Burlington’s lengthy search for a new police chief.

There is a packed agenda for the last meeting of 2021. It includes a new Progressive-led resolution requesting the police search be reopened after just two candidates came out of the last process who met the minimum job requirements.

Back in November, Mayor Miro Weinberger asked the council to significantly increase police chief candidate pay, draft a resolution to retain the chief’s leadership of officer discipline and hire a search firm to find more candidates.

He said if the council does not follow these guidelines, he will go ahead and move forward with the two qualified candidates who did apply.

However, the resolution Progressive councilors are bringing up Monday night does not satisfy all of the mayor’s demands. Instead, it would authorize the hiring of a professional search firm to look for chief candidates who are experienced in alternative public safety models.

Progressive Councilor Jack Hanson is sponsoring the resolution.

“We need someone who is really committed. We need someone who has experience with alternative models of public safety and who is ready to take on this role and really lead us through a challenging but important transformation so we really do need to get it right,” Hanson said.

Mayor Weinberger has said that if the council does not go along with his proposals, he will move ahead with choosing one of the two candidates from the prior search, which includes Acting Chief Jon Murad.

The person Weinberger chooses would still have to be approved by the City Council.

Also on the agenda Monday night, councilors will also look at regulating short-term rentals in the city, a process that has gone on for more than two years.

Short-term rentals like Airbnbs have been largely unregulated for years, and Progressive Councilor Zoraya Hightower hopes this will fix that while helping the housing crisis.

“Especially in a city like Burlington that has such a low vacancy rate it is important to regulate short-term rentals because you don’t want those to eat into folks being able to get long-term rentals,” Hightower said.

If this ordinance moves forward, it will head to a public hearing before the council weighs in for a final say.

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