Burlington, VT – Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger made a passionate case on the steps of City Hall on Thursday that Acting Police Chief Jon Murad deserves to be named permanent chief.
Weinberger announced he will bring Murad’s nomination to City Council on June 5. It will be the second time council will consider the issue.
“Our city needs and deserves a strong reliable leader in our police department,” said Weinberger.
In January 2022, opposition from the council’s Progressive faction helped swing the vote against Murad, who was named interim in 2020. Since then, Burlington has seen a sharp rise in gunfire incidents and homelessness.
“The day he stepped into office, he has faced tests with little precedent,” said Weinberger.
After the city’s police force was nearly cut in half by the council the department is growing once again. On Thursday, Murad highlighted changes to department policies, such as employing social workers to non-violent calls.
“I believe that this city is getting a lot of it right, and for the past three years it has been my privilege to try to be part of that,” said Murad.
Progressives, meanwhile, have long voiced their frustrations with Murad’s commitment to new strategies to address the opioid and mental health crises in the city.
“What I think there has been a resistance from the chief on is advocating for these alternatives, these non-police responses. Whether we’re talking about the crisis response team or overdose prevention centers,” said Councilor Joe Magee of Ward 3.
Magee brought up allegations, initially reported by Seven Days, that Murad pressured doctors at the UVM Medical Center to speak with a victim. Murad issued an apology to the doctors involved and instructed his staff to adhere to the hospital’s protocols moving forward.
“We’ve created new methods around social services issues. New officers responding to certain quality of life issues. We are however, understaffed,” said Murad.
Both Weinberger and South District Councilor Joan Shannon think Queen City residents have made their voices heard on the matter. “People are still working here because of their faith in him,” said Shannon.
Weinberger said Murad’s permanent appointment is needed “for the system to function, and to properly preserve public safety.”