Three years needed to rebuild police force to 85 officers
Mayor Miro Weinberger June 2 issued a statement describing the four major elements of the city’s new public safety plan, instituted after public outcry over the rising number of shootings and other violent crimes this year and last year. The self-explanatory statement is printed below, with minor edits. – Editor
New Policing Plan: The City Center Area
We have changed the way in which our officers are deployed to increase the presence of police officers in the downtown. Too often, last summer, we experienced disruptive, intimidating and even dangerous incidents in City Hall Park and on the Marketplace. With a declining number of officers, the City struggled to maintain a public safety presence in our downtown Incidents in City Hall Park forced some youth programming to be relocated. And even while we continued to enjoy a large number of visitors to our downtown, too many of those visitors and female employees of downtown businesses reported that they felt unsafe.
Because more than 50% of incidents take place downtown, we are concentrating the most of our resources in that area. This summer, two Police Officers and two Community Service Officers will be assigned to the new City Center Area (pictured below), which encompasses the downtown. Areas of proactive patrol and focus include the Church Street Marketplace, City Hall Park, the Fletcher Free Library, North Winooski Avenue, the Downtown Transit Center, and Elmwood Avenue.
Creating Additional Public Safety Resources
We are supplementing the police presence with new and expanded investments in numerous other public safety resources. Those resources include:
– Community Service Officers: Respond to a variety of quality-of-life complaints. They can write municipal tickets to address issues around noise, animal control, and open containers. They also respond to non-investigative crashes and perform downtown foot patrols.
– Beach and Parks Patrol: Works on the Marketplace, waterfront, bike path, and beaches and parks. They provide information to citizens and visitors, educate the public about City ordinances and rules, and help foster a safe, clean and healthy environment for all.
– Urban Park Rangers: Help the City ensure our parks are welcoming to everyone by increasing the thoughtful and positive presence in our parks, utilizing tools of education to help our visitors understand our park system ordinances and expectations so that everyone can enjoy our public spaces.
Expanding Capacity to Help People in Need
We are also expanding our capacity to offer help to people who need of support and services, including continuing to develop ways to work with people experiencing mental health challenges and homelessness.
– Community Service Liaisons: In-house BPD social workers who focus on issues associated with mental health, substance use disorder, and homelessness. They often work on cases referred by Patrol or Street Outreach, and do follow-up that requires more time and additional resources.
– Street Outreach (Howard Center): Works with individuals in the downtown Burlington Business District who have mental health, substance use, homelessness, and unmet social service needs. The team helps to coordinate services for those individuals, and the primary goal is to increase access to services for all individuals.
Rebuilding our Police Department
We are committed to making this plan work, but we may also encounter challenges because we currently have fewer officers than we need to provide the fully robust public safety response that Burlingtonians have come to expect from the Burlington Police Department.
We are also working to rebuild our police department, and are seeking Council approval of a budget that would enable a comprehensive outreach plan to increases the Burlington Police Department from 66 officers to 85 officers over the next three years. The goal is ambitious but achievable if we successfully negotiate a competitive contract, attract new recruits with hiring incentives, and deliver a successful marketing campaign that sets Burlington apart from other communities.
Categories: Police Reports