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Chief Murad talks strategy for officer shortage; new group forms to hold pro-police events

At the Police Commission’s meeting Tuesday evening in Burlington, acting Police Chief Jon Murad focused on the city’s latest reshuffling of staff to address rising crime in the city while dealing with officer shortages.

Among other topics discussed, Murad said some calls that would have normally seen an in-person officer response may have to settle for online interactions — and the person responding may not be an officer.

“We have revised the priority response plan and we have not changed any category of incidents with regard to Priority 1, 2, or 3, but we have turned several types of incidents into CSO [community service officer] response, and other incidents into an online response,” he said.

MONTHLY UPDATE: Acting Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad says that the department has to make strategic use of its limited resources in order to protect residents.

From 2021 to 2022 crimes are up 11% in the Queen City.

“That’s still lower than 2020 or 2019 but catching up to 2020,” Murad said. “… The progress that was made in 2018 through the early part of 2020 is disappearing fast.”

Murad noted that a lot of crime incidents are engagements from officers being proactive out in the city. However, the department’s Priority 1 incidents are on the rise.

“Priority 1, of course, are more important for us — they are simply incidents that are of a greater concern for members of the public,” he said. “There’s certainly a greater concern for us as we deploy.”

In past years, the Burlington Police Department has operated with around 100 officers. Today the department is making due with just 63 officers, 53 of which are really available. Murad said officers are getting stretched thin because of the understaffing.

“There are six airport officers, that’s down from seven because we currently are running lean on our midnight,” he said. “… The volume of narcotics complaints necessitates that we have a road officer assigned to narcotics separate from the narcotics detectives.”

After all special assignments are accounted for, just 21 officers are available for patrols.

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