By Guy Page
At least three federal law enforcement agencies are taking a more hands-on approach to Vermont crime, entering into partnership with major Vermont law enforcement agencies.
GUN VIOLENCE – Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Burlington Police Department: Formation of Chittenden County Gun Violence Task Force to “address the disturbing increase in firearm-related violent crime in Chittenden County.
Since July, three people have died by violent gunfire in Burlington. Two had likely drug and gang connections. A third was a UVM college student shot to death by an ex-lover. The Burlington ATF office will become the first in the nation to have a local ballistic evidence evaluation system that can “talk” to other systems nationwide, to link crimes here with crimes committed elsewhere.
Both Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Chief Jon Murad have expressed concern that the most recent murder, in City Hall Park, might be connected with out-of-state gangs.
SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY – Department of Homeland Security and the Vermont State Police: “See Something, Say Something.” DHS designated Sunday, September 25 as #SeeSayDay.
DHS says the campaign “is an initiative that encourages individuals across the nation to be the eyes and ears for safer communities. A safe community requires the joint effort of all community members. The more observant and involved individuals are in their daily lives, the less likely crime will occur undetected. If we watch and report suspicious activity, we reduce the areas where criminals feel comfortable committing crimes, resulting in safer towns and cities across the nation.”
In Vermont, people can report suspicious activity by calling 844-84-VTIPS (844-848-8477) or visiting http://www.vtips.us.
HATE CRIMES – The United States Attorney’s Office, VT Attorney General’s Office, Rutland Area NAACP: Hate-Free Vermont Forum.
One forum has already been held in Rutland. The next will gather in Bennington on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, from 5:30 – 7:30 PM.
Community members are encouraged to join us for a conversation on understanding and addressing bias, discrimination, and hate crimes in Vermont.
“The Forum aims to bring policymakers, stakeholders, and community members together for productive and difficult conversations that will work to reduce animus, discord, and misunderstandings,” said Co-facilitator Etan Nasreddin-Longo. “When we began these conversations in 2019, our goal was to take the pulse of Vermonters’ experience of discrimination. Much has happened since that time, and our hope is to engage and to listen to our historically-disadvantaged communities about what they view as the continuing and new problems in 2022.”
The Forum will be hosted remotely (register here) in person at the Mount Anthony Union High School, Cafeteria, 301 Park St, Bennington. All are welcome.
The VT AG’s office hopes Vermonters will be direct with their comments and suggestions. “What aren’t we doing that we should be doing?” said Assistant Attorney General Julio Thompson, director of the office’s civil rights unit. “What are we doing that you think we can do better? And what are we doing that you think is not working at all?”