Burlington police chief resigns over Twitter trolling scandal

Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 11:39 AM EST
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Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says his embattled police chief Brandon del Pozo has resigned in the wake of a Twitter trolling controversy.

In his resignation letter, del Pozo spoke fondly about his four years as chief and cited his many accomplishments. He did not address the fake Twitter account or what led him to step down. And he still had the support of the mayor.

"I will miss him greatly and I am sure Burlington will as well," said Weinberger, D-Burlington, announcing the resignation at police headquarters Monday afternoon.

He said that del Pozo sent him the letter Sunday night offering his immediate resignation.

Friday, the chief admitted the fake Twitter account he created for about an hour one day last summer was a mistake, but defended his record and said he wanted to continue as chief.

Weinberger says he did not ask del Pozo to step down and that he hoped he would stay on, but Weinberger says del Pozo told him if he stayed it would have made a stressful job more difficult.

"There was going to be ongoing questioning of his conduct and he ultimately decided he didn't want to go through that," Weinberger said.

The mayor said he felt very troubled when the chief told him in July about his Twitter trolling and lying to a Seven Days reporter about it. An internal investigation determined that del Pozo's actions stemmed from ongoing trauma from a major bicycle accident in 2018. Del Pozo went on medical leave.

"Based on the determination of two medical professionals that the chief's actions had been impacted by a medical condition -- a mental health condition," Weinberger said.

Weinberger says he stands behind his decision to give the chief a second chance.

"It's been a very hard issue for me from the day it started, but I hope people will see that I acted with integrity and did the best that I could during a challenging time," he said.

Burlington residents we spoke to Monday had mixed reactions on the chief stepping down.

It shook me that that was going on, so I am glad that he resigned," said Maria Cornyn of Burlington.

"I think it's too bad," said Nick Morse of Burlington. "It's an extremely difficult job. The guy made a small mistake, what the heck."

"I'm not surprised. I guess I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner," said Jackie Majoros.

Soon the search will begin for a new police chief. In the meantime, Deputy Chief Jan Wright will step in as acting chief.

"We still have to do our jobs and we still have to be out there every single day and through all of this our police officers have done that every single day with great success," Wright said.

Del Pozo did not return calls for a follow-up interview Monday. Like any other city employee, he will receive the rest of his accrued benefits, but no other compensation.

In his resignation, also posted on Twitter, del Pozo said he plans to pick up work on a book he was writing as well as efforts to finish his Ph.D. in political philosophy.

In a statement from the Burlington Police Officers' Association, they said the association "prides itself on providing Burlington with high quality policing. We would like to ensure the public this will not change during this trying time. We wish Chief del Pozo good health and success in his future."