The city of Burlington is home to a fairly large and diverse homeless community, many of them take to Church Street.
“There is the classic transient population that we know really well and then in the summer we see a transient population that self-identify as travelers,” said Shawn Burke, Burlington Police Deputy Chief.
While Burke calls Wednesday’s stabbing uncharacteristic, he says there have been some concerns with member of that community.
Burke said, “That is a question that the police dealt with last year where we had dedicated foot patrols and we saw a drastic reduction in not only the prevalence but the rate in which we were called and citizens felt a lot more safer and welcome on this block.”
Police say both men involved in the stabbing had extensive criminal records. Mayor Miro Weinberger says the incident sheds light on several issues including mental health, the opioid crisis and the need for more help.
Weinberger said, “We need to be asking ourselves systemically are there different ways of helping people who are having this type of challenge… There are different types of treatment and resources that should be brought to bear here.”
Weinberger says these are critical issues that are plaguing not only Burlington but the entire country.
“They’re additional public safety demands that are not going away and that we have to make some changes to address,” said Weinberger.
As the investigation continues, Burke says this appears to be isolated.
“We want to remind people that this unfortunate incident that we saw yesterday in Burlington… Very uncharacteristic but again a dispute between two people it wasn’t a random attack,” explained Burke.
Next week Burlington Police will be adding more foot patrols to the downtown area. Burke says this was planned prior to the recent stabbing.