New Burlington Police Excessive Force Policy prioritizes de-escalation

Local News

According to new orders from leadership, Burlington Police Officers must intervene when they see other officers using excessive force. Friday afternoon, Mayor Miro Weinberger and Chief Jennifer Morrison released an updated use of force policy, and are urging the Burlington Police Department to take swift action.

Police in the Queen City will be required to intervene if they see other officers using excessive force on a suspect. This can range from a simple verbal intervention or in more serious cases, a physical one.

But Deputy Chief of the Administrative Bureau, Matthew Sullivan, says that can get tricky. “What actually is excessive force, so again there can be clear examples of that, such as what happened in Minneapolis. And then that would cross a whole gambit of different types of force that an officer may use during the course of their duties.”

Depending on the situation, officers will face repercussions if they do not intervene. “There are many things that go into that, the officers history. You know, again, the type of force that was used, how extreme a violation it was, and that sort of thing. So there’d be many many factors that would be weighed in as far what sort of punishment would be issued. But it would include a consideration of termination depending on the nature of the offense,” says Deputy Chief Sullivan.

Deputy Chief Jon Murad says, while the current use of force policy includes just 1 explicit mention of de-escalation, the new policy has 18. Also the current policy does not explicitly mention intervention as a requirement, which the new one does.

Randall Harp, a member of the Police Commission, says the most recent draft of the policy that he has seen appears to be “good policy”, and that he looks forward to discussing the new policy at Tuesdays meeting.

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