In June 2020, the City Council voted to reduce the number of police officers in Burlington from 105 to 74, without a plan in place for how the City would respond to the full range of calls with 30 percent fewer officers. Already, as a result of this vote, the Police Department has had to curtail services that include: the Community Affairs Officer who helped coordinate the City’s response to graffiti, the Emergency Response Officer who helped manage the innovative strategies that the Department uses to respond to acute mental health crises, the street crime team that responded to patterns of open-air drug activity and robbery, and foot patrols on Church Street.
Retirement and attrition could lead Burlington from 81 sworn officers to 59 by this coming September – and that might not even be the worse case scenario. “From that 59 you would have to staff the airport,” and leadership, and detectives, and community affairs, and CUSI (sex crimes unit). The domestic violence prevention officer may be reassigned as a patrol officer. The community affairs already has been reassigned to patrolling (beginning next month). An uptick in graffiti will be a likely consequence, Murad said.