The Burlington Police Commission met virtually for its regularly scheduled meeting and the police department’s staffing shortage is still a significant issue.
Acting Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said the next police academy class won’t begin until May 3.
“That is a tremendous delay, from a normal start in very early February, that means that in all likelihood there will not be a second police academy class in the year and if there is it will be pushed back,” Murad said.
On Monday, the Burlington City Council postponed a vote on Mayor Miro Weinberger’s public safety continuity plan that seeks to address the shrinking police force. Councilors said they want more time to look it over.
“But I am frustrated that we are yet again waiting for a next meeting which is where it seems we have been since June,” Murad said.
It typically takes over a year for any new recruit to join the force, because they have to first go through training at the Vermont Police Academy, which graduates a new class only twice a year.
Right now the Burlington Police Department is at 85 officers with two who have turned in their resignation but are still on the books and one person is on disability.
“I can only advertise for anticipated vacancy, I can advertise for actual spots and I’ll tell you people don’t want to go through a rigorous hiring process for an anticipated vacancy,” Murad said.
Murad showed data on mental health related incidents and said they have been on an increase.
“We are asking officers to be more diligent checking that box when they believe mental health has a component of a call that they are addressing,” Murad said.
Any new officers would likely not arrive at the department until 2022.