BURLINGTON, Vt. – Jennifer Morrison was unanimously confirmed as Burlington’s Interim Chief of Police at Monday’s city council meeting.
Morrison worked at the Burlington Police Department from 1990 to 2013, becoming the city’s first female deputy in 2012. She most recently served as Colchester Chief of Police from 2013 to 2018.
Several city residents spoke in support of her at the meeting, and former Chief of Police Kevin Scully stood by to congratulate her after she was sworn in by Deputy Jon Murad.
Despite voting unanimously to confirm Morrison, several councilors pressed her on issues that have impacted the department in recent years, including the anonymous social media controversy that preceded her appointment.
When Jack Hanson, a Progressive councilor, asked how she would handle the release of body camera footage in use-of-force incidents, Mayor Miro Weinberger interjected and said an interim applicant shouldn’t be asked to comment on a policy the city has already assigned a special committee to review.
Morrison said she’s not going to debate about what’s happened in the department over the last year. Instead, she offered her vision for the four to six months she’ll spend as interim chief.
“I can tell you that when I make a mistake or something goes wrong under my watch, my mantra is to fix it, own it, and move on,” Morrison said. “Right now, what’s happening inside the walls of One North Avenue needs to be sured up, and that’s job one.”
Weinberger said the city is fortunate that Morrison accepted the role.
“It’s a great opportunity for the department during a challenging time to have her experience, stature and background particularly in Chittenden County,” Weinberger said.
He added that she was a potential hire in the 2015 search for a chief, but didn’t apply because she felt she hadn’t finished her duties in Colchester.
Morrison said she views the interim job differently than a permanent position and emphasized the importance of experience. Her goals will be to improve communication, rebuild trust and prepare the department for its eventual permanent chief.
That process will begin in earnest this month with a community input session hosted by the Police Commission. The date has yet to be determined.