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EXCLUSIVE: Burlington mayor: “I knew it was trouble” when Council defunded police in 2020

By Michael Bielawski,

The outgoing Burlington mayor Miro Weinberger was asked during his latest appearance on the Morning Drive radio show last week if he thought that the City Council’s 2020 vote to reduce the police force was the greatest challenge he saw while in office. The soon-to-be former mayor seemed to affirm that it is true.

Weinberger has been in office for 12 years, he will step aside for Progressive Mulvaney-Stanak to take office next.

There were also more crimes reported both in the Queen City and throughout the state including a bank robber being caught, there were two attempted murders, and there are new efforts to solve an unsolved case.

Nothing else had “more significant consequences”

The mayor said regarding the defunding of the police, “I can’t think of another issue where we had basically a two-year or 18-month debate over it. I can’t think of another issue when there were more significant consequences as a result [of a policy decision]”

The mayor has always maintained that he was against the policy from the start. In the years since the defunding, crime rates have hit new record highs including a continued climb so far this year.

Weinberger added, “I knew when this came to the floor all of the sudden over a weekend, I knew it was trouble.”

New hope for downtown

There were some updates regarding concerns about the increasing sights of empty storefronts in downtown Burlington.

Weinberger indicated that new shops are on the way. He said, “We are now seeing downtown investment in a way that we haven’t seen in quite some time, and if on Monday the City Council acts to pass the neighborhood code that will really open up homeownership opportunities, small structures being built in our neighborhoods again in a way that we had really basically been prohibited over the course of the 70s and this really reverses a mistake.”

The latest crime reports

Some of the latest press releases from state and local police departments include a bank robbery, two attempted murders, and attempts to solve a two-decades-old case.

The bank robbery involved Samuel Blatt, age 32. Blatt is charged with a criminal complaint by the United States Attorney’s Office regarding multiple bank robberies spanning at least three communities. The investigation involved multiple law enforcement offices.

The release states, “According to court records, investigators have tied Mr. Blatt to bank robberies in Essex, Johnson, and Winooski.” If he is found guilty he could spend up to 20 years in prison, including another 3 years of supervised release, and $250,000 in fines.

Two attempted murders

On Tuesday of last week, the Burlington Police were called to a disturbance at Cherry St. There was a conflict between two people, one of them being a male who allegedly struck the other person with a vehicle.

“The male suspect was identified as Jermaine Webber, 36, of South Burlington. After the dispute, Webber hit the individual with his vehicle and left the scene.”

The report continues, “Webber was brought back to the BPD for processing and was lodged at Northwest State Correctional Facility on bail.”

There was another attempted murder on the prior Saturday. The BPD got a call to Main St between Church St/S Winooski Ave. for reports of gunfire. Officers arrived and surveyed the scene. Shortly after a man arrived at UVM Medical Center Emergency Department with a gunshot wound.

“This male was determined to be a victim of the shooting that occurred on Main St. The victim was treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and discharged,” the release states.

There could be more potential witnesses, the report states, “An initial review of surveillance footage indicates that there were many people in the vicinity of the shooting.”

A missing person

FBI Albany and the Vermont State Police have announced a $40,000 reward for information that can help solve the disappearance of Brianna Maitland. She was last seen on March 19, 2004, in Montgomery, VT.

According to the report, “then aged seventeen, was last seen during the late evening hours of March 19, 2004, as she was completing a shift at a restaurant in Montgomery, Vermont, a small town near the Canadian border. She left the restaurant in a green 1985 Oldsmobile 88, which was later located backed into the side of an abandoned barn about a mile away from the restaurant.”

Just over two years ago, there was a break in the case as DNA evidence was found.

“Those DNA samples were sent to the Vermont Forensic Laboratory, which confirmed that DNA from one of the individuals matched the DNA found on the ground near Brianna's vehicle,” CBS reported.

The author is a writer for the Vermont Daily Chronicle


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