Vermont Senate passes police use-of-force bill

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The Vermont Senate Wednesday passed a bill that would implement new police use-of-force guidelines, ban chokeholds by police and require other officers to intervene if they see colleagues using a banned restraint.  

A second bill requires law enforcement agencies to comply with racial data reporting requirements. While the Legislature had been considering similar proposals for some time, they were given new urgency in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing. Both bills still need to be considered by the House.

Gov. Phil Scott says there is more that could be done to modernize policing. He supports body cameras for all officers and embedding mental health professionals in departments.

"There's a lot of areas of agreement with us-- we think we can always improve. And so again, there's far more that we agree with than don't, and I think we can get through this," said Scott, R-Vermont.

Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Mike Schirling says they generally support banning chokeholds unless absolutely necessary to protect officers' lives. Schirling says they should still be an option in very rare cases.

Vermont Representative Peter Welch is holding a press conference in Montpelier Thursday to talk about the Justice in Policing Act.

The legislation was passed in the U.S. House this week and would ban police chokeholds and no-knock warrants, holds reckless police officers accountable and bans racial profiling.

Welch will be speaking at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in front of the Black Lives Matter mural on State Street.