Mayor Miro Weinberger has acknowledged that a draft of a long-awaited assessment of the Burlington Police Department includes a recommendation that the city raise its current cap on the number of officers.
The recommendation in the document, which has not yet been released to the public, calls for a staffing level of between 76 and 83 officers, according to Seven Days, which obtained a copy of the draft assessment. That loosely aligns with a decision by City Council last year to reduce police staffing by 30%, through attrition, to 74 officers. The department currently deploys 81 officers.
Weinberger responded to the leaked recommendations in an email Thursday. The mayor said the proposed staffing level “does not equate to an authorized cap.”
“Where the City’s police staffing should fall in this range is dependent on a number of other factors and policy changes,” he said.
“T]here may be important clarifications to the final document. In addition to required officers, the consultants provide 150 other recommendations.”
Until it becomes public, City Council has refused to budge from its decision to cap the operational force at 74 officers. Weinberger has been critical of council’s decision, telling Local 22 & Local 44 anchor Lauren Maloney in August that some council members have acknowledged it may be too low.
“Almost every councilor who voted against the raise sort of acknowledged that they were very uncomfortable with what was going on, that they misjudged how quickly the situation would deteriorate, and yet they stuck with their position,” Weinberger said in an interview on What Matters This Week.
“I would be shocked if that report does not confirm the need for more than 70 officers — 74 officers, the current cap — and so I think this will be back in front of the Council again soon,” the mayor said.
CNA is expected to deliver the final draft by the end of the month to Tyeastia Green, the city’s Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging.
Weinberger’s email Thursday was also attributed to the co-chairs of the city’s Joint Committee on Police Transformation, Burlington City Councilor Zoraya Hightower and Police Commissioner Shireen Hart. Neither were available for comment.