The safety of all Burlington residents and visitors must always be a core value of our local government. While there is broad agreement that all members of our community need public safety, we also need to examine how policing can be improved so that everyone in our community feels safe and are being treated fairly. Public safety requires a professional police force committed to upholding laws established by our elected officials. Certain aspects of policing can and should be done by other professionals with expertise in social services, such as responding to certain mental health related situations, sometimes in partnership with police.
As we move forward, we must include all stakeholders impacted by policing, especially those community members affected by policing failures. While these conversations will not always be easy, they are essential in our shared efforts in creating a public safety system that works for everyone.
Racism exists in our community, as it does in all communities. It also exists in our policing system. We have much work to do on this front and I am committed to finding solutions and working with you in creating policies to make our community safer for everyone.
We need to create a process that brings leadership with expertise in 21st century policing, social services, lawmakers, and other stakeholders to the table for a common purpose. We must provide funding to this leadership group to hire experts in the field to help us create a Burlington specific solution. It’s time to start working toward a common vision that assures fair and impartial policing, accountability, and begins to rebuild social service networks that have eroded in recent decades, leading to an over reliance on police. Much of this work needs to be in partnership with the State to access federally available funds and provide proper social services regionally. It cannot be done by Burlington alone.