Internal investigation divides Burlington Police Department

Published: Dec. 23, 2019 at 5:33 PM EST
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We are learning new details about the turmoil inside the Burlington Police Department. There is an internal investigation into a leaked email and roll call audio that is pitting leadership against the rank and file.

The internal investigation focuses on who sent WCAX News that email and roll call tape after former Chief Brandon del Pozo's burner Twitter account became public and he lied about it.

Our Ike Bendavid has been following this from the start. On Monday, he talked to the lawyer representing the high-ranking officers.

Attorney Brooks McArthur says those officers did nothing wrong, they just want a clean slate.

This comes after they all were told they are the subject of an internal investigation.

"Their goal is to defend themselves. They don't feel they have done anything wrong. They can't understand why an internal investigation was even initiated," McArthur said.

McArthur is representing the four high-ranking officers-- lieutenants and sergeants-- who were in the room during that leaked call. He does not represent patrol officers or Deputy Chief Jon Murad, who were also there.

"These are people who have given their life to the Burlington Police department and in the wake of Chief del Pozo's scandal, the BPD turns around and targets them," McArthur said.

WCAX News obtained copies of the so-called target letters alerting officers to the internal investigation. They were sent out by then-acting chief Jan Wright.

We're told that target letters stay on your record forever and everyone in the room at the time of the leaked roll call received one, except Murad.

The letter states Rule 28 was violated, saying that an email memo about del Pozo's burner Twitter account and the roll call audio leaked to WCAX News constitutes "Unauthorized disclosure of information."

Each officer had to sign his or her own target letter. Deputy Chief Wright signed them, too. They are dated Dec. 17 and 18. Wright was put on administrative leave one day later, Dec. 19.

Attorney Brooks McArthur says roll call is not private.

"Roll calls are not confidential. In fact, it was Chief del Pozo who oftentimes let the media in the roll calls. There was no warning at this roll call that confidential information was going to be provided and there was nothing after to prohibit any information from being disclosed," McArthur said.

Meanwhile-- more friction. While supervisors call for the internal investigation to be dropped, the rank and file support it.

"We are supportive of the investigation of the leak from the roll call room. As for specifics, we are not going to comment on anything from the investigation," said Ofc. Vincent Ross of the Burlington Police Officers Association.

And McArthur says morale is a mess.

"Morale has been pretty bad for quite some time. And with the new administration, everyone was hoping there would be a reset," he said.

"Last week was a tough week with the changes in leadership but we go out every day and we do the job that the citizens of Burlington expect us to do," Ross said.

WCAX News reached out to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger's office for comment on the timeline of events and what he knew when about this investigation, and about the timing of Wright's paid administrative leave. We were told the mayor is on his holiday break and made no comment.