Burlington deputy police chief disciplined in social media scandal

 Burlington Deputy Police Chief Jan Wright
Burlington Deputy Police Chief Jan Wright (WCAX)
Published: Jan. 27, 2020 at 12:46 PM EST
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A Burlington deputy police chief embroiled in a social media scandal is facing discipline. An investigation by the city found Jan Wright violated the city's policy when she used fake social media accounts to engage with critics.

Our Cat Viglienzoni explains what's next. For Jan Wright-- she can return to restricted duty immediately. For the department-- the interim chief says she's looking forward to rebuilding trust with the community that got broken last month.

"It was a strange time here, I'm coming to appreciate," interim Burlington Police Chief Jennifer Morrison said.

Morrison says there were lapses in judgment before she was brought on to lead a department that was reeling from social media scandals.

First, when former Chief Brandon del Pozo resigned in December after lying to a reporter about a fake Twitter account he had created to harass a critic.

Then, when his replacement, Deputy Chief Wright, was put on leave just hours after the mayor's office learned she, too, used fake social media accounts under the names Lori Spicer and Abby Sykes to interact with critics and city councilors on Facebook.

"This was a big misstep. This is a big one," Morrison said.

Morrison says the discipline took into account Wright's 18-plus years with the department, and what she says was an otherwise exemplary record.

Wright will be suspended for eight days without pay, go through social media training and have to make amends with those whose trust she broke.

"The fact that Deputy Chief Wright cooperated 100 percent with the investigation and, in fact, agreed to the release of information that would not typically be in the public realm is indicative of her earnest desire to be made whole again," Morrison said.

In a statement, Wright said: "I accept full responsibility for my posts and use of social media. I am sorry for the impact it has had on the Departments, its members and the City. I am deeply embarrassed by my behavior. I look forward to returning to work and taking the steps necessary to correct my behavior and to regain trust with those with whom it has been broken."

Morrison says she's also looking forward to the city releasing an official social media policy that will cover all city employees, which she says will happen soon.

"It will be a top priority to train all of our people on that right out of the gate," Morrison said.

There's another investigation going on within the Burlington Police Department right now after roll call audio was leaked to WCAX News in which Deputy Chief Jon Murad talked to the rank-and-file about del Pozo's social media flap. Morrison says she won't be saying anything publicly about what happens with that.

"It's not my intention to make that public. It's not a public issue," Morrison said. "The aggrieved parties were in-house, the perpetrator was in-house and it will be dealt with in house."

I asked where we were in the search for a permanent leader for the department. She says that's something the mayor's office would be handling and they're still in the early stages but she reiterated she's only here in the interim.