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Burlington budget reverses police defunding, outspends State of Vermont on racial equity

The Burlington City Council last night approved a 2023 fiscal year budget that expands the police department by offering incentives and continues spending and programs on climate and racial diversity, according to a information released by Mayor Miro Weinberger.

The budget would hire officers back to the 87-officer authorized cap of the Burlington Police Department. The police chief has set a goal to achieve 85 officers by July 1, 2025, through increasing our Police Academy class size by 50 percent, doubling the number of lateral hires, and improving our retention rates of current officers.

A three-year rebuilding plan allocates $1.2 million to keep current officers in the Police Department and attract new officers. This recruitment and retention plan incentives include: a competitive contract; signing bonuses; housing stipends to live in Burlington, education, and childcare.

The budget also spends more on other public safety personnel, including the number of the BPD’s Community Service Officers (CSOs) from 10 to 12 and doubles the number of Community Service Liaisons (CSLs) from 3 to 6. (CSOs perform foot patrols and respond to a variety of quality-of-life complaints. CSLs are social workers that work in the police department and focus on mental health issues, substance use disorder, and homelessness.)

The budget also reserves $400,000 for the creation of a Crisis Response Team Program inspired by the CAHOOTs program in Eugene, Oregon.

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