The Burlington City Council is expected to vote on Mayor Miro Weinberger’s proposed budget that includes a cut a 10% to the police department.
The mayor’s budget wants reallocate to $1.9 million from the department, including to create a $1 million Racial Equity & Justice Fund. Weinberger originally proposed $300,000 for the fund, with the erst going toward reducing the city’s deficit.
Some activists are calling for even deeper cuts amid outrage over racial injustice and police brutality across the country. Over the last two weeks, hundreds of people have called in to public forums at city meetings to request a steeper 30 percent budget cut along with other demands established by the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.
The police department has pushed back agains the cuts, which would leave empty four police officer positions that were supposed to be filled in January. The department currently has 90 officers and 12 vacancies.
Interim Police Chief Jon Murad told the Burlington Police Commission recently that if the Mayor’s budget is approved, officer training would be cut by 70 percent and the departmernt would be “on the razors edge of being able to maintain our current level of service.”
“Ten percent cuts for us mean that we lose 12 unfilled positions,” Murad said. “That not only means that the BPD can’t grow, but it also reduces our ability to prevent attrition by leaving no buffer for replacement officers.”
Weinberger is also proposing to shift Parking Enforcement to the Department of Public Works, and move the budget for the police department’s crime analyst to another department.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.