Burlington, VT — The Burlington Police Department ended 2021 responding to its 14th gunfire incident. Shots were fired inside a home on St. Louis Street just minutes before the New Year, sparking more concern over the city’s gunfire trends.
From June 1 to December 12, 2021, Burlington Police responded to 13,821 incidents and only 15 percent of them were considered Priority 3 or low priority incidents.
Acting Chief Jon Murad said, “We’ve had certain kinds of crime category uptick in the past two years. These kinds of changes I believe does have to do with the fact we don’t have as many resources available for public safety, but we’re building those resources back.”
Murad says officers are a major resource the department is lacking. According to the report, there are a total of 68 officers, the lowest headcount to date in the Queen City. This workforce was up against 14 gunfire incidents in 2021. Between 2012 and 2019, the average was two.
“That is not a trend we are happy about,” said Murad.
On New Year’s Eve, at around 11:17 p.m. the city responded to its 14th incident involving 20-year-old Bonide Wilondja Badibanga who fired a gun at a family member. Police classify the incident as a shooting and an attempted murder. Mr. Badibanga turned himself in with an attorney Monday afternoon and was later arraigned. He pleaded not guilty on all counts and is held without bail for the time being.
Murad talked about how they can approach gunfire incidents moving forward.
“Our best option with regard to combatting gun violence is a system where we bring in as many partners in as possible, and that includes people who are in the court system, people who are in the prosecutors office, people who are here in this police department and also community groups who are familiar with some of the individuals who are most likely going to be committing this kind of gun violence,” said Murad. “Our next step is figuring out who is likely to commit gun violence, who the associates of people committing gun violence, and what we can do to dissuade them from moving to gun violence.”
Murad also says that there are positive changes in the works for 2022 including the recent hiring of an officer and new positions such as a community support liaisons and community service officers.