Burlington residents demand answers on public safety

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:27 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A coalition of Burlington residents concerned with the city’s public safety crisis is circulating an open letter they hope will lead to action.

The authors of the letter say more than 500 people have signed on so far. It lays out a variety of solutions spanning from harm reduction all the way up to asking the state’s congressional delegation for more help.

It calls for a holistic approach including the creation of overdose prevention centers, deferment to drug diversion programs instead of incarceration, but also increased enforcement for issues such as shoplifting, graffiti, and drug trafficking. They are hoping to further support first responders by increasing policing caps and adding more community service positions to assist officers. They also have specific demands for the City Council to reform the trespass ordinance to help merchants. They are asking the state’s attorney’s office to have more transparency in the cases they are taking on.

“There’s a system that needs to work together from how we police in Burlington to how crimes get prosecuted and what happens to people when they do get arrested. what our laws are, and what our state agencies are doing. and it’s it’s a combination of those things,” said Andy Vota, an organizer of the campaign.

The city is heading into a mayoral campaign and the letter’s authors hope candidates will offer specific ideas about how they plan to address the drug, crime, and homelessness problems, rather than speak in generalities.

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