Burlington Police is still searching for suspects in several crime-related incidents at Leddy Park in Burlington. Acting Police Chief Jon Murad says officers are trying to determine if they’re related.
“What we saw was a spate of intense incidents – priority one incidents we call them – in a very short period of time in the past few days,” said Murad.
In the span of 48 hours, BPD responded to everything from assaults to a reported stabbing.
“The stabbing incident occurred in the southwest corner of the park. The previous incident involving a woman who was apparently having a mental health crisis occurred in the vicinity of the baseball field. That other assault occurred somewhere on the bike path,” said Murad.
He says officers are still trying to identify the suspects and determine whether the incidents are related.
“The stabbing in Leddy Park required every officer on shift. We had a K-9 track, we had officers collecting witness statements. That is an all-hands-on-deck kind of incident,” said Murad.
The Priority Response Plan went into affect in May. “Priority 1” are calls that are of greater public-safety concern and require immediate attention. Murad says according to the analysis by BPD, incident volume at Leddy Park between June 1 to July 15 is at its lowest in five years.
“The number of incidents at Leddy is not any higher this year than it has been in previous years. In fact, it’s a little bit lower than previous years,” said Murad.
But, other types of calls are going up.
“What we’re seeing is a large number of priority one incidents, much smaller number of officers to deal with those incidents, as a result resources getting stretched.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger responded on behalf of Burlington, Parks, Recreation and Waterfront saying quote: “While I am concerned about the acute pressures facing the Burlington Police Department this summer – I am confident that our officers are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all our neighbors and visitors in Burlington.”
Weinberger added the City Team is working on several initiatives to expand public safety and mental health resources in the coming months.
Park-goers were surprised to hear about the recent criminal activity at Leddy Park considering how comfortable they admitted feeling about the community.
“It disappoints me. Where I live in Colchester and wherever I go in Burlington, it seems to be an extremely safe place,” said Robert Hajdu from Colchester.
“I feel very safe. Hopefully it can continue to stay that way,” said Loryn Fouse from Winooski.
Murad assures they aren’t seeing an increase in incidents at Leddy Park nor are they seeing an increase in incidents city-wide. Police are simply responding to frequent “Priority 1” calls.
“People should not feel unsafe in Burlington. Burlington is not unsafe,” said Murad.