As Burlington plans police budget, reform efforts and staffing woes compete
BURLINGTON — Two years after voting to slash the number of police officers the city could hire by 30%, Burlington leaders are divided over how to fund their police department.
For Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger and his allies, this year’s police budget should rectify the June 2020 resolution that ultimately led to an exodus of officers from the agency. With about half the number of patrol-ready cops as it had two years ago, they argue, the city needs to pour more than $1 million into initiatives to beef up the department’s ranks.
But to more than half the City Council, including the six-member Progressive caucus, the same police reform effort that reduced the department’s headcount needs more investment to work. Instead of funneling money into attracting and retaining officers, they say, the city should fully fund the policing alternatives that were proposed alongside the officer cuts.
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This debate about the future of policing has a deadline. The city’s fiscal year begins on July 1, before which the City Council is required to pass a budget that funds Burlington’s government through the end of June 2023.