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EXCLUSIVE: Burlington Police dealing with “more incidents than at any point in half a decade”

By Michael Bielawski,

The Burlington Police Department is continuing four years after getting defunded by their City Council to struggle with keeping an effective officer count available for public safety.

Overall from the time of the initial defunding via attrition starting in June of 2020 the department went from 91 available officers to a low of just 51 by August of 2022.

The report states, “In June 2020, the Burlington City Council voted to reduce, by attrition, the BPD’s authorized headcount from 105 to 74. An officer exodus ensued. In Oct 2021, the council raised the cap from 74 to 87, but it was not until a new, strong police contract was ratified in July 2022 that headcount stabilized. We are now working to rebuild.”

The Burlington Police currently have 65 officers on staff, but of those only 60 are currently readily available. From January 2015 to June 2020 the average head count was 97 officers.

Meanwhile, crime is continuing to trend upwards in the Queen City year over year. This year crimes are already outpacing the previous year by about 6%. These stats are up to date as of May 15.

The report states, “BPD is addressing more incidents than at any point in half a decade, with fewer patrol officers than in 2018—50% fewer, in fact. As a result, of the 10,008 incidents in 2024 so far, 1,162 have been “stacked”—i.e., 12%. And 622 have been referred to online reporting, or 6%.”

Some of the crimes that have increased include there have been five gunfire incidents for 2024. Murad has said for most of the previous decade the city had seen maybe 2 or 3 gun incidents in a year.

Aggregated assaults are also up. At this point last year, there were ten such incidents but there are 20 already in 2024. The previous recent high was 23 by this point in 2022.

There were 100 overdoses this year. That’s down from the 148 at this point last year but before that, there were 43 or fewer during the previous four years.

Stolen vehicles were also relatively high with 64 incidents at this point. That’s just about half of last year’s 126 or 2022’s 88 but before from 2021 and back there was not more than 24 stolen by this point.

To help with the lack of armed officers there are also six Community Service Officers and five Commity Service Liasons. There is also a Community Support Supervisor. In each of these roles, they are able to assist and in some cases fill in for armed officers in certain low-intensity calls.

In separate news also highlighted in this report, last week was a special week for law enforcement. It states, “In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week. Since the BPD’s founding in 1865, three officers have died in the line of duty. While we hope never to see another, we also vow never to forget.”

And a related story highlighted in the report was another event also to celebrate police work. It states, “The Police Unity Tour is a four-day bicycle ride from New Jersey to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, to raise public awareness about law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Thousands of officers participate each year, and have raised more than $33 million for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.”

The author is a writer for the Vermont Daily Chronicle


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