Burlington, VT — The Burlington Police Department’s plans to rebuild staffing include increasing the size of police academy classes, hiring more female and BIPOC officers and improving its retention rates for current officers, city officials said Monday.

The city’s 2023 budget funds the department’s plan to hire more officers. Currently, the BPD is authorized to have up to 87 officers on staff, but only 53 officers are available for deployment right now. The department hopes to be back up to its quota by August 1, 2025.

Since 2020, the number of officers at the BPD has dropped from the mid-90s to 53.

“To fully address our current public safety challenges and ensure that this community continues to be one of the safest cities in the country, we need to rebuild the department to the authorized head-count as soon as possible,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Acting Chief Jon Mura said the city has obligation to support the department and to set clear expectations for officers.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges over the last two years, and all of these challenges, I believe – I hope – there has been a consistent theme,” said “Our shared mission is keeping people safe. But on a day-to-day basis, it is police officers who do that work.”

The city’s contract with the Burlington Police Officers Association includes a 20% pay increase over three years, while also addressing police accountability.

“I’m hopeful this message that all of you are carrying will resonate through Chittenden County and beyond, and begin to let people know that we are open for business, and we are looking to rebuild, and are looking to re-grow, and we’re looking to do it in a way that our community has said it wants, and re-establish the kinds of safety we expect here in Burlington,” Murad said.

Weinberger addressed multiple public safety challenges, including a 500% rise in gunfire incidents in Burlington, which he said is “extremely concerning”.