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Public Safety, Accountability, Compassion, and Trust

Our Plan recognizes that Burlington can and should do better.  Importantly, this plan is based on our shared goals and will improve public safety for all our neighbors.  We are asking for an All Hands On Deck approach because we know that only together can we create the Burlington that we all want. 

As Mayor, I will focus on four areas to improve public safety in our community as follows:

  1. Deterrence and Prevention.  Investment in public safety and rebuilding community trust.

  2. Treatment.  Working with state, federal, and non-profit partners to address debilitating mental illness, substance use disorder to restore the health of our community members.

  3. Housing.  Adopt policies combining Housing First and Treatment First to meet the needs of our unhoused neighbors and establish housing as a human right.

  4. Justice.  Hold people accountable for theft, crime, and other aggressive and concerning behaviors.

All of the above include key elements of accountability and care.  This plan recognizes that people are not getting the help they need. At the same time, it acknowledges that accountability is essential, and our community can no longer tolerate open drug use and drug dealing, graffiti, car theft, bike theft, retail theft, gun violence and other harmful behaviors in our parks, in our neighborhoods, and in our downtown.

We must create a strong public expectation of safety throughout Burlington for our residents, for those experiencing homelessness, for our local businesses supporting local jobs, for our non-profit organizations and for service providers seeking to help our community. We also must recognize that our economic future is tied to our ability to maintain public safety and reverse the negative perceptions that currently exist about public safety in Burlington. 

We can and will do better!  My top priority will be to tackle these four primary issues head on with the tools and resources available to the city government.  I will also partner with and call on the community at-large, leaders in the Statehouse, and our congressional delegation. The time to act on these issues is now, and our community cannot wait. As I continue to listen to all of you, I commit to building your feedback into this plan every step of the way.

Priority 1: Deterrence and Prevention

Invest in public safety and rebuild community trust.

As the only candidate for Mayor who has a record of consistently supporting, protecting, and investing in public safety, and vocally opposing misguided efforts to reduce the number of police officers on patrol in Burlington, I have the credibility to continue to work toward rebuilding our diminished police force. This will include focusing on recruitment efforts and continuing to modernize policies and procedures that ensure high standards of accountability.  I will work towards rebuilding trust and relationships between the police department and the community.  We must also show our officers that city leadership and the general public support them in performing their jobs according to their training and directives.

  • Prioritize funding and creativity in recruitment and retention efforts for sworn officers, Community Service Officers, Community Support Liaisons, and Dispatchers in the Burlington Police Department. 

  • Continue work to diversify emergency response by enhancing Community Response Team (overdose/harm reduction responders), Crisis Advocacy Intervention Program (CAIP) and The Crisis Assessment, Response, and Engagement Service (C.A.R.E.S) street outreach efforts. 

  • Identify and address racial inequities in policing.

  • Support additional security, including park rangers, in downtown, and parking garages.

  • Proactive intervention to prevent and address open drug use, drug dealing, theft, and dangerous behavior.

  • Invest in Community policing and improve dispatch response systems to build community trust.

  • Work with the City’s leadership team to develop a multi-year strategic vision and plan for public safety.

  • Work with schools, nonprofits, and families to build prevention strategies for the next generation.

  • Combat gun violence by supporting and working with the Chittenden County Gun Safety Task Force.

  • Work with the States Attorney - who is a critical public safety partner. 

 

Priority 2: Treatment

Work with state, federal, and non-profit partners to address debilitating mental illness and substance use disorders to restore the health of our most vulnerable community members.

I will prioritize helping those suffering the most in our community by working with our partners to build the physical health, mental health, and addiction treatment systems we need, both in Burlington and outside of our city.  Harm reduction is a critical first step, but it must be paired with other public safety initiatives to be fully effective. To meet our goals, I will work with our legislators and our Governor, making it a Vermont-wide effort to ensure we have a healthy community in Vermont’s most populous city. 

  • Work with state and federal partners to ensure swift access to evidence-based treatment approaches.

  • Proactive coordination and cooperation between local, state, and federal partners in support of enforcement action on drug dealers and sex traffickers.

  • Restore the Street Crimes Unit in the police department as soon as staffing levels allow.


 

Priority 3: Housing

Adopt policies combining the core principles of Housing First and Treatment First to meet the needs of our unhoused neighbors and establish housing as a human right.

If we want to have a healthy and inclusive community, we need more of all forms of housing for people in all stages of life. Some people need supervised housing on their way to recovery, while others need supportive housing as they transition from intensive treatment to independence. This is a critical component of our overall housing strategy which recognizes we all need affordable and desirable housing options to attract the workers who staff our hospital, our city departments, our hospitality industry, childcare centers, the Howard Center, and colleges; and to meet all our other community needs.

I commit to working with healthcare and transitional housing providers, affordable housing and market housing developers, lenders, and city staff to find creative solutions to build housing that enhances our beloved Burlington neighborhoods and provides needed homes and financial stability for our workers. 

  • Build a coalition state-wide in support of every community working to prevent homelessness and provide shelter to residents who find themselves without a home.

  • Housing and sheltering is a shared responsibility. Not the responsibility of cities alone.

  • Partner with federal delegation and state leadership to ensure that Vermont has a statewide mental health system and substance use treatment care that functions to provide housing, care, and prevent homelessness for people who need intensive supervised care, supportive care, and affordable housing.

  • Evaluate the impacts and efficacy of the Elmwood Avenue “pod” approach to housing.

 

Priority 4: Justice

Hold people accountable for theft, crime, and other aggressive and concerning behaviors. 

 

To achieve our public safety goals and create a safe, clean, and welcoming city for all residents and visitors alike, we need to work together with state partners to provide the statewide  social safety net and justice  that people deserve.  Permissiveness is not kindness.  Accountability helps people access the resources they need.   We also need to work together to clean up graffiti, pick up litter, and recover stolen property. 

  • Reform City trespass policy and implementation to create more effective tool for enforcement on private property.

  • Advocate for reform of theft laws to improve recovery of property and accountability of perpetrators.  

  • Work with Vermont Legislature and Governor to improve judicial branch resources and ensure justice is not delayed for victims and crime is more effectively deterred.  Fear of getting caught is an effective crime deterrent.

  • Invest in technology that will make reporting crime and getting a response easier and more consistent.

  • Bolster the graffiti response team and tap into volunteer resources to swiftly address graffiti as it happens.

  • Partner with citizen groups working to recover stolen property to enhance the effectiveness, safety, and professionalism of their efforts.


 

Implementation:

 

The most important element of addressing any crisis is to problem-solve with focus, resources, and expertise at the table. This will be the central point of my administration on day one. The action steps I have described will be implemented with the focused leadership and resolve that I have continuously demonstrated throughout my civic service.

Resolving our crisis will not be easy. We need to make significant public investment in the safety and welfare of all who live in and visit our city, or the downward economic and social spiral will continue.   More work needs to be done to identify the resources and expertise required to address the crisis head-on with community support, transparency, and data. We need harm reduction for our entire community, including those in the throes of addiction, students walking to school, and shoppers on Church Street. 

 

Burlington’s path to success will take ALL HANDS ON DECK!

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