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Next steps for Burlington Police reforms

(WCAX)
Published: Feb. 21, 2020 at 4:08 PM EST
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A panel formed to review community policing practices in Burlington this week recommended changes to the police department's use-of-force policy, with a focus on de-escalating potential physical confrontations.

The panel was tasked with the job last summer following a handful of much-publicized use of force incidents. That included a September, 2018, incident where Jeremie Meli was pushed into a wall by Sgt. Jason Bellavance, knocking Meli unconscious. Meli, his two brothers, and another man -- all African Americans -- filed a lawsuit against BPD last May, prompting the committee's formation. Bellavance was suspended without pay for less than three weeks.

A few months after the September incident, BPD Officer Cory Campbell, following many attempts of de-escalation, punched Douglas Kilburn in a UVM Medical Center parking lot. Kilburn's death a few days later was ruled a homicide. The state did not charge Officer Campbell.

Use-of-force wasn't the only issue the committee reviewed. In mid December, days after telling WCAX he would not resign, Chief Brandon del Pozo resigned over his use of a secret Twitter account to troll a critic. And following the announcement, interim Chief Jan Wright confessed her own secret social media account that she used to confront critics as well. Wright has since stepped down

Galen Ettlin spoke with Randall Harp, who was on the Committee to Review Policing Policies, about the group's findings and suggested policy changes.