Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Four Areas of Priority in Burlington’s Next Steps to Protect Public Safety

Mayor Outlines Actions to Prevent Gun Violence, Improve the Downtown Climate, Advance 21st Century Police Reforms, and Rebuild the Department

Burlington, VT – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger with local leaders announced the Administration’s next steps to protect public safety in Burlington. The plan includes 16 near-term initiatives focused on four areas of priority; ending the recent spike in gun violence and preventing future gun violence, improving the downtown climate, making progress on 21st Century Policing, and rebuilding the Police Department.

“After nearly three years of rising gun violence and property crime and declining numbers of officers, in recent months we have begun to make progress on our most acute public safety challenges.  Our police department has now resolved over 80% of the shootings since 2020 and the rate of new shootings has slowed, we are on track with the officer rebuilding goals announced in early 2022, and the many new investments we have made in alternative public safety resources in recent years are having a positive impact,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “However, public safety remains a top concern of Burlington residents, workers, and visitors, and we still have much to do to ensure that our recent progress continues. The next steps I am announcing today are the result of countless conversations with constituents, local leaders, elected officials, law enforcement partners, and subject matter experts, and implementing these strategies will be a collective effort. This Administration will continue working with urgency and making the investments necessary to restore and protect public safety for our whole community.”

The BPD has now resolved 81% of shootings since 2020, and 100% of homicides. Many serious offenders have been charged and incarcerated, and there have been no new shootings and only one gunfire incident since early October. However, the possibility of a resurgence in gunfire is not remote. Included in the Mayor’s call to action for the Vermont legislature to advance Statewide gun safety laws, including; requiring the safe storage of firearms, prohibiting guns in bars, restaurants, and other sensitive spaces, making reckless endangerment with a gun a felony, and funding gun violence research.

Weinberger also announced the Mayor’s Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence led by the City’s Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Director Kim Carson who said: “The best outcome is one where conflict never escalates to violence. While we work to strengthen and reform our systems for justice, we must do the same to create tools for violence prevention. By working directly with our neighbors and subject matter experts we can better identify problems that are unique to our community and find the solutions that will work best for Burlington.”

The Mayor’s plan will require action by the Burlington City Council in a number of areas. At the press conference was Ward 5 City Councilor Ben Traverse, who said: “With near unanimous support, the Council has taken multiple actions over the past year to improve public safety and rebuild our police department. I look forward to continuing that effort by introducing resolutions that support many of the important initiatives outlined by Mayor Weinberger today.”

After a precipitous loss of officers in 2020 and 2021, this year the City stabilized staffing in the Police Department and as of January 1, the current headcount is 63 officers, 54 of whom are deployable. The BPD is generally on track with the Rebuilding Plan presented to the City Council and the public as part of the FY23 budget. Today, Chief Murad announced that three new recruits have graduated from the Vermont Police Academy and begun field training, and six new recruits are expected to attend the upcoming class next month. Murad also projects that by February the BPD will employ 6 CSLs, the Department currently staffs 3 CSLs and 10 CSOs.

“I believe that the Burlington Police Department is world-class, and in order to best serve our neighbors and protect public safety we must keep pushing forward on our long-held priority of 21st Century Police reform,” said Chief Murad. “That means continued investment in transparency, equality, accountability, restorative justice, and a relentless, data-informed approach to improving our policies and directives.”

The BPD has long led the State law enforcement community in progressive police reforms, including the implementation of body-worn cameras for officers, and among the many steps to advance 21st Century Police reforms discussed by the Chief today was the announcement that beginning now the Department will proactively release body-worn camera footage within 30 days on an incident, unless a criminal inquiry would prevent release, for certain types of incidents and uses of force. The BPD agreed to this new policy with the Police Commission in 2021, and now has the appropriate personnel in the Department to meet this requirement.

Despite the stable officer headcount and quickly growing new, non-sworn officer positions to support public safety the inability to provide community policing has contributed to a diminished climate in the downtown that has, at times, undermined the broad public enjoyment of Church Street, City Hall Park, and other public spaces, and threatens the success of our beloved restaurants and retailers. To address the Mayor and the Police Chief propose creating a new BPD Assistant Director for Crisis, Advocacy, and Intervention Programs (CAIP) and increasing the presence of uniformed officers from the Vermont State Police and other Chittenden County police agencies; and are calling for legislative action to modernize theft laws to provide meaningful, appropriate accountability for repeat shoplifting offenses.

The City’s Director of Business and Workforce Development Kara Alnasrawi said: “While the City is leading numerous initiatives to speed up our economic recovery and to support the growth of locally owned, BIPOC, and woman-owned businesses across the Burlington - our merchants are experiencing huge losses from repeat shoplifting incidents that jeopardize their ability to succeed. Theft is not a victimless crime, and our local business leaders are asking for more support to make sure we have a thriving, vibrant downtown.”

Mayor Weinberger’s Next Steps for Advancing Burlington Public Safety Priorities 

Priority #1: End the Recent Spike in Gun Violence and Prevent Future Gun Violence 

  1. 1. Appointing a Mayor’s Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence.  
  2. 2. Requiring the reporting to law enforcement of all stolen guns and safe storage of handguns in Vermont.
  3. 3. Prohibiting guns in bars in Vermont.
  4. 4. Making it a felony to commit reckless endangerment by discharging a firearm in Vermont.
  5. 5. Funding a program to research gun violence.

Priority #2: Improve Downtown Climate 

  1. 6. Creating a new BPD Assistant Director for Crisis, Advocacy and Intervention Programs (CAIP).
  2. 7. Increasing the presence of uniformed officers from the Vermont State Police and other Chittenden County police agencies.
  3. 8. Modernizing theft laws to provide meaningful, appropriate accountability for repeat shoplifting offenses.

Priority #3: Continue Making Progress on 21st Century Policing Reforms  

  1. 9. Increasing department capacity for implementing reforms and new policies.
  2. 10. Implementing new body camera policy to release footage of uses of force.
  3. 11. Partnering with the Center for Policing Equity to deliver a training to the Burlington Police Department on institutional and structural racism.
  4. 12. Increasing funding of the Crime Victims Fund.

Priority #4: Rebuild Police Department   

  1. 13. Encouraging eligible officers to delay retirement beyond the end of the rebuilding period by implementing a time-limited Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP).
  2. 14. Rejecting the creation of a “Community Control Board” for the BPD.
  3. 15. Creating a non-residential, alternative path to certification as a Level III Officer.
  4. 16. Calling for state action to create financial incentives and marketing efforts to attract new recruits and current officers to Vermont.

A complete, detailed plan for the Mayor’s next steps to protect public safety in Burlington is available online here.



Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office