BURLINGTON, Vt. – On Tuesday, Mayor Miro Weinberger signaled he will move forward with the current pool of candidates in the city’s search for a new police chief, criticizing a resolution passed by Burlington City Council that wouldn’t bring forward any candidates until at least March.
“The community and our police department need a permanent chief now,” Weinberger said. “Our efforts to rebuild the department, to protect public safety, and to create a community in which everyone feels safe and welcome are all suffering from an extended period without permanent leadership.”
The resolution passed by City Council Monday night authorizes $75,000 for an executive search firm to find candidates focused on ‘support and prevention.’
“I think it is critical that we have a leader of the Burlington Police Department who is really committed to that transition and that vision and is not resistant to it,” said Councilor Jack Hanson. “We need someone who is willing to do the hard but necessary work of changing the system from the inside.”
At that meeting, Weinberger expressed frustration over the proposal, which he believes will ‘waste months’ in the search without recruiting a wider pool of candidates as intended.
“It is nearly certain to squander months of valuable time, waste tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer resources, and could well result in the loss of the two qualified candidates that have applied and are eager to serve Burlington,” Weinberger said.
Last month, Weinberger outlined a path forward to strengthen the search: increase police chief compensation, support retaining an executive search firm, create a civilian recruiter position, create a civilian public information officer position, and retain the police chief’s leadership over officer discipline.
The search for a new chief was suspended in November after finding just two qualified candidates. The resolution passed by city council notes that if the search firm notices a pattern among those who don’t want the job, they should report back so changes can be considered to address those concerns.
“It really starts with getting the recruitment firm to have those conversations with those leaders, and if those folks are refusing to apply, the recruiter can really do that work to understand why,” Councilor Hanson said.