Police commission reviews BPD oversight measure

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 11:20 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2022 at 5:14 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington Police Commission Wednesday night reviewed a proposal that would give the commission more authority to review and investigate complaints against cops.

“We can all agree the degree of trust between the police department and the community is very low,” said Commission Co-chair Stephanie Seguino.

Under the plan, the commission would have more involvement in investigating officers, but the police chief would have the final say in any punishment.

Commission members say the current draft is too detailed and limits transparency, especially since they aren’t allowed to talk to complainants. “We should be the body that is also tracking the complaint, when the investigations are, what the results are,” Seguino explained.

City Attorney Dan Richardson says it lays out where the police commission can have influence while remaining within the law. “Part of it is trying to find where we can essentially find places the police commission can give meaningful feedback,” Richardson said.

Police oversight has been a hot topic in Burlington for some time now, with community members saying they’re tired of performative actions when it comes to managing law enforcement within the city.

“I think we need meaningful oversight and there definitely needs to be change in the Burlington Police Department,” said Burlington resident Justin Creaser.

Other changes commission members hope to see include the ability to obtain outside legal counsel and complete access to investigative materials where complaints have been made against officers. “A lot of this is about the community having a better understanding of what’s happening in the police department and that there’s oversight and transparency,” Seguino said. “That’s really what we’re going for.”

The commission will meet next Tuesday, hopefully to review their recommendations one more time before it’s sent to the Ordinance Committee.

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