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EXCLUSIVE: 301 incidents over weekend for Burlington Police again highlights 2020 defunding

A continuous theme at the Burlington Police Department is that they are responding to more crimes with fewer officers. This is largely because the City Council voted to defund the police in June of 2020 by about a third of their staff via attrition.


On Monday came a report that summarized numerous incidents over the past few days. These included aggravated assaults, attempted burglaries and more.



“Over the weekend, the Burlington Police Department recorded and responded to a high volume of incidents. From Friday, June 28, 2024 through noon on Monday, July 1, 2024, there were approximately 301 incidents,” the report states.


It continues, “Currently, the BPD has 26 officers available for patrol spread across three shifts: days, evenings, and midnights. Day and evening shifts typically have three to five patrol officers assigned for the entirety of the city. Midnights typically have two patrol officers.”


It further notes that on Sunday they were especially short-staffed. “One lieutenant and three officers were on for the Sunday day shift. There was never more than one officer available throughout the shift,” it states.


An ongoing pattern


Two years ago - and about two years after the big defunding by the Council - it was already being reported that police were getting overwhelmed.


VDC reported in August of 2022, “Due to shortstaffing caused by attrition and City Council defunding, Burlington police were unable to respond to a property crime committed shortly after 3 AM Tuesday morning. About two hours later, the man later identified as the suspect in the 3 AM crime smashed 33 windows and terrorized residents on two Burlington streets.”


The report continues that “In total, it is estimated that more than twenty 9-1-1 calls were received within a short duration of time, which overwhelmed the two-person call center.” They also had to override their default priority response plan to get through that night.


The crimes: Threat with knife


At about 7:00 in the morning [the release doesn’t have the date currently listed] an “Investigation revealed Justin Gaboriault, 36, of Burlington, punched an individual in the face and threatened the individual with a knife in the area of Church Street and Main Street.” It continues that he was taken into custody with a $1,500 bail set.


Assault with gun


Someone assaulted another person with a gun according to one incident. An investigation “revealed Malcolm Sovey, 21, of Burlington, struck the victim in the face, while in possession of a firearm. Sovey was taken into custody and lodged.”


Once he was in custody it was revealed he has a long history with the police.


“A review of Sovey’s criminal history shows 8 violation of court orders or conditions charges, 4 felony charges with 1 conviction, 16 misdemeanor charges with 4 convictions, 4 assaultive crime charges with 2 convictions, and 1 assault on officer charge.”


Attempted breakin


There was an attempted breakin during the during about 5:30 in the morning, the full date is not listed. It says “officers with the BPD responded to a report that a male was trying to break into an individual’s apartment. The male was later identified as Jason Casey, 40, of Colchester.”


Uncooperative fire burner


There was an open and nonpermitted fire reported to the police. It states, “BPD were dispatched to assist the Burlington Fire Department with an aggressive male who was refusing to extinguish an unlawful open fire.”


Crimes continuing this week


By later Monday afternoon crime reports were still coming in. This included a man allegedly trespassing and threatening someone with a knife.


The report states, “At approximately 5:51pm, officers with the Burlington Police Department responded to a report of a male brandishing a knife and threatening an individual on South Union Street. The caller provided a description of the male and advised he has been trespassed from the area.”


The author is a writer for the Vermont Daily Chronicle

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