Burlington racial equity office pans consultant’s survey of police needs

Local News

George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day 2020 led to a push in Burlington to analyze who, what, where and how the BPD polices the Queen City.

But one effort to assess Burlington residents own views on the city’s public safety needs, according to Burlington’s Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Office.

Talitha Consults delivered its final report to the Burlington Public Safety and Police Commission Joint Committee earlier year. Skyler Nash of the Burlington REIB Office told committee members Wednesday that the consultant’s report falls short of what the city wanted.

“This was supposed to be a plan that included a transparent and accessible, sustainable platform for community input; Burlington-specific recommendations and tools to assist responders; methods for assessing and sustaining service equity; culturally-grounded materials that reflected the communities served,” Nash said.

According to Nash, Talitha was also supposed to come up with a budget to implement its recommendations, as well as a multi-year schedule estimating the how much city staff and resources would be required.

“But once we received the final report, instead of a comprehensive program description, it was just limited to bullet-point recommendations,” he said.

More than 1,700 people responded to Talitha’s survey. However, some groups of Burlingtonians were over-represented at the expense of others. Joint Committee member Stephanie Seguino noted that 42% of the respondents have master’s degrees, double the rate of the Queen City as a whole.

“There were some suggestions that we compiled to give to Talitha to integrate into their report to address that problem,” Seguino said. Turning to Nash, she then asked, “Can you tell us to what extent they were able to respond?”

Nash said he isn’t sure that Talitha responded at all. He said the consultant didn’t record the public’s responses from some of the communuty listening sessions they held, noting that some people’s answers to questions in the survey document itself are duplicated.

“It was a very difficult process to kind of go back and forth every time we saw a new error or omission in the report as we were combing through,” he said. “It was hard to get straight answers.”

Nash said his office is working on an executive summary of Talitha’s findings in time for the joint committee’s August 12 meeting.

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