Burlington interim police chief sworn in

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 12:33 AM EST
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Burlington has a new interim police chief. Jennifer Morrison was sworn in Monday night after the City Council voted unanimously to appoint her to the position.

She is the city’s fourth police chief in a month after former chief Brandon del Pozo resigned in the midst of a social media scandal.

Before taking the oath of office, councilors wanted to know how Morrison plans to repair public trust. They also wanted to know how she plans to address racial bias and excessive force, referencing lawsuits the department faced last year and the police altercation with Douglas Kilburn, who died three days later.

Morrison said she's not going to look back and she's not going to take responsibility for anything that happened in the past. Morrison said she believes in holding people accountable and taking swift, decisive action when people, including police officers, step out of bounds.

Morrison said her philosophy on discipline is to make sure protocol is followed.

"We look at implementing progressive discipline, that we don't treat anyone situation in a vacuum and that when deciding discipline on any particular infraction, that discipline is proportional to the actual violation, not proportional to the reaction to it or the negative outcome that may have happened," Morrison said.

Progressive councilors asked about police-race relations. Councilor Brian Pine asked Morrison what her views are on using traffic stop and search data as a management tool to eliminate racial disparities. Morrison said she is interested in refining new ways to collect data. She also favors transparency by having discussions about the data.

Councilor Perri Freeman asked Morrison if she supports the Black Lives Matter movement when it comes to concerns about police brutality against people of color. Morrison said she is not a supporter of the movement because she thinks the platform has changed in the past few years.

"I do not support it, I have not supported the Black Lives Matter movement," Morrison said. "If you gave me what their priorities were, I could speak to each of them, but in the interim, I will tell you that I believe in the procedural justice for all humans for all contacts with the police and treating every human with dignity and respect."

Morrison will serve between four to six months. She says she does not see herself serving longer than six months due to her husband's medical condition.

She says her main goals during the next few months are to rebuild trust and prepare the department to receive a new chief at the end of her tenure.