Vt. State Police reviewing policies following deadly shooting

Published: Feb. 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM EST
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Vermont State Police are putting their policies under the microscope. Vermont police have killed three suspects in six months. State Police are now promising to review their policy to see if any procedures or tactics need changing.

"Certainly there is great cause for concern when you have multiple officer-involved shootings in a short period of time," said Col. Matt Birmingham, the commander of the Vermont State Police.

Three involved State Police and suicidal individuals in the last six months.

Sunday's deadly shooting on Interstate 89.

Another last month just outside Montpelier High School. A man with what turned out to be a BB gun killed on the athletic field.

And in September, troopers opened fire on an armed man who police say pointed a gun at them from a window at his home in Poultney. That turned out to be a BB gun, too.

"We do everything we can to mitigate and de-escalate these situations," Birmingham said.

But is what they're doing right? State Police want to be sure. In addition to investigations by the Major Crime Unit, state's attorneys and the attorney general, officer-involved shootings now face two other reviews. One to look at the toll on an officer's mental health and appropriate about of leave time. Right now, a decades-old policy calls for at least three days off. The new recommendations aren't out until March but we learned Tpr. Christopher Brown will be off until the legal review is done.

"Let me be clear: this decision is not an indication of any wrongdoing by Trooper Brown but merely a change in the way the State Police will now manage our response to officer-involved shootings as it relates to the health and well-being of our members," Birmingham said.

The other new external review looks at decision-making and operations during an officer-involved shooting. State Police started this after Poultney to see if training, policy or tactics need changing.

"I think our procedures are sound but given the fact that three shootings have taken place, it's prudent for us to take a hard look at them," Birmingham said.

The external review takes place after the attorney general's investigation.

"One fatal shooting is too many," Birmingham said. "Which is why we are taking all these steps to figure out the cause to figure out and make sure we are doing everything we possibly can do from a policy and procedure standpoint to avoid them from occurring in the future."

State Police say they are looking at policies at other agencies across the country and consulting with mental health clinicians about best practices.