New report shows racial disparities in traffic stops, use of force by Burlington police

Local News

As Vermonters and the nation remembered George Floyd on Tuesday, Burlington officials shared a report that showed racial disparities in how the Burlington Police Department responded to incidents in 2020.

“Black people are more likely than white people to have a gun pointed at them by the police department,” said Brian Lowe, the city’s Chief Innovation Officer. “In 2020, nearly half the people BPD displayed a weapon against are black.”

The report also found that people of color — who make up about 6 percent of the city’s population — are issued moreuu utickets than white Burlingtonians, and the duration of traffic stops involving BIPOC drivers last longer.

Acting Chief Jon Murad said the higher rate of suspended licenses among BIPOC Vermonters may explain some of the numbers.

“I think what we see here is we have a small number,” Murad. “I do know in the gunfire incidents we addressed and serious crimes of that nature, we saw disproportionate groups in those suspect groups so that contributes.”

Murad called on the city’s police commission to focus on specific incidents of force that weren’t appropriate. Some commissioners said that just because the numbers aren’t through the roof doesn’t mean the problem isn’t real.

“This issue isn’t so much the small numbers,” said Stephanie Seguino. “The issue is that one group is being treated differently than another group for the same behavior. That’s the issue at hand.”

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