Recent days have seen an enormous shift in the focus and character of the federal government. More than ever, it falls to state and local government to lead the way towards the inclusive, sustainable and equitable vision of the community Vermonters share. We will embrace this leadership role and continue to move forward.
Progress at BPD: increased officer diversity and new transparency measures
The City of Burlington is firmly committed to the principle of building public trust and legitimacy for its policing through transparency and accountability and by increasing the diversity of the department. We made substantial progress on both of these fronts over the past month.
At the end of December, the BPD announced the hiring of three new officers who will increase the BPD’s diversity and continue to ensure its officers better reflect the community they serve. A fourth recruit, who is Ecuadorian-American, will join new recruits Ronald Kikoyongo, Erin Bartle, and Kyle Yeh in January of 2017. These hires come on the heels of the release of a Diversity and Recruitment Report that found a slight underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic officers in the department and recommended a number of interesting changes to the department’s hiring strategy.
On Monday, January 23, the BPD continued to increase its transparency and accountability by adding comprehensive use of force data and analysis to its Transparency Portal. You can access the portal and view six years’ worth of police data at https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/Police/Data. An accompanying slide show presented to the Police Commission on January 24, 2017 was added the same week.
I am encouraged that the report documents declining use of force events even as police calls and arrests are rising, suggesting that our efforts to evolve our use of force policies over the past year are having a positive impact. Further, I am generally encouraged that the Department’s long-standing efforts to work against racial bias appear to be reflected in most of the use of force metrics.
The data does suggest, however, that people of color are more likely to be encountered in the types of calls where officers believe it is prudent to point their firearms, such as search warrants and burglaries. This finding requires the type of deep and thorough investigation called for by any such disparate impact of policing by race, and the Burlington Police are committed to this work.
I am very thankful for the work of our skilled, committed officers who put themselves at risk to keep this community safe, and who continue to implement new approaches to policing as the community faces new pressures and threats to public safety.
New Fletcher Free Library Director to continue the reinvigoration of Fletcher Free Library
Also on January 23, City Council unanimously approved the appointment of new Fletcher Free Library Director Mary Danko. The Fletcher Free Library is experiencing an exciting period of capital investment, programmatic expansion, and growing public use and enjoyment, and Mary Danko is the right person to continue the reinvigoration and strategic reinvention of our beloved library.
Mary grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, the granddaughter of immigrants from Czechoslovakia and Ireland. Her parents never attained a college degree, but they fostered in Mary a love of reading and a lifelong intellectual curiosity, as well as introduced her to regular visits to the local library.
Mary has an academic grounding in the library profession, having secured a Master of Science in Library & Information Science at Syracuse University, and she will bring over 14 years of library experience to the Fletcher Free Library, including three years as director of the Weathersfield Proctor Library, four years as director of the Hartland Public Library in Vermont, and most recently over four years as the director of the Abbott Library in Sunapee, New Hampshire. The Abbott Library was named Library of the Year by the New Hampshire Library Trustee Association in the fall of 2015.
Throughout her career, Mary has demonstrated passion, creativity, and a collaborative management style. She has a long history of prioritizing community engagement, and has strived to develop library programming that adds value to the lives of community members, as well as programming that is dynamic and responsive to current events. She has also proven herself to be a skilled administrator of budgets, personnel, and major projects.
Since 2015, Mary has acted as Vice President and now President of the New England Library Association, where she has been leading an effort to help make the Association’s leadership more diverse. She is in the planning stages for a Diversity Summit in the summer of 2017 that will bring librarians and change leaders together for a day of engagement. In 2016, as Vice President, she served as conference chair for the conference “Imagining Tomorrow,” where librarians from the six New England states attended programs over three days. Prior to her service on the New England Library Association, she served as Green Mountain Library Consortium Board Member & President from 2010-2012.
I look forward to a continuing conversation about these and other important developments in our city. As always, I encourage you to join me at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8-9am to share any thoughts or questions you may have. You are also invited to visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MiroBTV/, or follow me on Twitter at @MiroBTV for up-to-date information on the work of the Mayor’s Office and our City Departments. I look forward to seeing you soon.