Burlington to address racial disparities in arrests

Local News

BURLINGTON, Vt. – On Tuesday, the City of Burlington released an extensive report detailing police department arrest data. The report offers a complete breakdown of arrests by race, and makes recommendations to address disparities.

While overall arrests have declined since 2016, 17.3 percent of those arrested in 2019 were Black, despite accounting for just 5.3 percent of the city’s population.

That’s a rate of 123 arrests per 1,000 Black residents, nearly four times the rate in which White residents were arrested. Those arrests were largely drug-related offenses, or assault and domestic violence cases.

The data shows less disparity in low-level drug offenses that have been a concern nationwide.

Several recommendations were made in the report, including the possibility of bringing in a third party to further evaluate the data. It also recommends broadening community input for future strategies.

Mayor Miro Weinberger acknowledged the disparities detailed in the report, but said the analysis also shows progress in recent years, particularly when it comes to traffic stops.

“Burlington Police Department policy and practice in recent years has clearly reduced racial disparities among juveniles and greatly improved traffic stop metrics,” Weinberger said. “Further, the existence of this report is a step for the City’s and BPD’s commitment to transparency, analysis, and continuous improvement, and is exactly the type of outcome that I hoped for when we launched the practice of publishing an annual City Equity Report in 2018.”

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