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Burlington city councilors respond to BPD chief's secret Twitter

(WCAX)
Published: Dec. 15, 2019 at 7:36 PM EST
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Burlington city leaders are calling on Police Chief Brandon del Pozo to restore public trust after it was revealed he created a fake Twitter account to taunt a critic.

Burlington Police confirmed Thursday that the chief’s anonymous social media page was the real reason he was put on family medical leave this summer. Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, says del Pozo confessed to him in July that he was the man behind the account. Del Pozo also admitted to lying about owning the account when questioned by a reporter. Weinberger says he then ordered del Pozo to seek mental health treatment and took his badge and gun.

Burlington city councilors call the situation problematic, horrifying and troubling.

Max Tracy, P-Burlington City Council, is demanding either del Pozo resign or Mayor Weinberger force him to step down.

“It’s incredibly disappointing and shocking that the chief would do that. And I think that we need to hold the chief accountable for his actions. Specifically, I believe the chief should resign,” Tracy said. “They call into question his leadership and his character. And I believe that the fact that he not only created it, he lied about it and then did not come clean to the reporter after he admitted it to the mayor, did not report it to the City Council, did not report it to the police commission really shows to me that he was really looking out for himself and not trying to make amends for what were incredibly harmful actions to the city and quite honestly an embarrassment for the city of Burlington.”

Other councilors said they’re waiting until they get more of the details before deciding if they think del Pozo should resign, but they agree that the chief defied the public’s trust.

“I think that we, as a community, expect our top officials -- and we hold them accountable. We expect them to conduct themselves in a certain way that respects citizens and respects the right of citizens to criticize our government. That’s what our democracy is based on,” said Brian Pine, P-Burlington City Council. “Ultimately, I think it’s really the chief’s job to now be forthright and upfront and completely transparent about what was going on and what happened and what he’s going to do to repair that relationship.”

Del Pozo isn’t the only person the City Council has questions for. They say the mayor is not off the hook. They criticized how and when he informed the council.

“The fact that we didn’t hear anything about this and the fact that the mayor had removed the police chief’s badge and gun without ever even notifying the council of that action. These are pretty important things in the community and I think, at the very least, they should be communicated with the City Council and it’s unfortunate that we’re only hearing about it because the media was able to crack up this story,” said Jack Hanson, P-Burlington City Council. “I'm concerned that we maybe never would have heard about it otherwise and that doesn't speak to transparency and accountability.”

Kurt Wright, R-Burlington City Council president, says he wants to hear more from the mayor and the police chief, but as of right now he doesn’t think the chief should step down.

“I do believe that it was a very serious mistake in judgment. At this point, I need to hear more from the chief. But at this point, I would still be in favor of having him continue with a second chance but he needs to be upfront and speak completely to the community and really explain why he should be trusted still,” said Wright.

Joan Shannon, D-Burlington City Council, issued a statement saying, “I do not think the chief should resign. I believe that our compassionate community values his work and contributions and is willing to continue to work with Chief del Pozo despite this severe lack of judgment attributable to residual effects of a traumatic brain injury. However, the chief has a lot of work to do to rebuild trust and we need to hear more from him about how that will happen. We also need to hear more about why the conditions that lead to this lapse in judgment no longer exist and won’t happen again.“

Sharon Foley Bushor, I-Burlington City Council, also said she is waiting to hear more from the mayor and del Pozo about the situation before giving a formal opinion.

WCAX News emailed all 12 city councilors on Sunday for comment and only heard back from six of them.

The mayor will be holding a press conference on Monday afternoon at the Burlington Police Department.