The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT publishes a weekly candidates’ Q & A.
Here is this week’s question and my response:
QUESTION: The topic of police funding has become a hot topic nationwide since the high profile killings this year of several blacks throughout the United States. What is your view on the funding model of law enforcement in Vermont, and should Vermont institute additional laws that regulate police in the Green Mountain State?
ANSWER: Act 147, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor in July 2020 was the first step towards addressing potential biases and curtailing potential deadly use of force. The Governor also issued Executive Order No. 03-20 on August 20, 2020, which presents priorities for Public Safety Reform Initiatives. These measures cannot be implemented overnight and demand that a thorough review of existing policies and procedures be undertaken and understood. Bills S.119, S.124, and S.24 were taken up, amended, and passed by the House just prior to press time, putting into place the framework for widespread public safely reform initiatives. Many advocates representing people of color and other vulnerable populations are requesting the Legislature to slow down on pushing through more bills pertaining to racial biases and/or changing the scope of law enforcement. We need to take time to heed their warning and to take testimony from a wide variety of witnesses, including law enforcement, before making judgments on further legislation that could be problematic for marginalized populations. We also must take seriously the need to examine the interaction of mental health issues with law enforcement activities. There is clearly much more work to be done, and it should be done in a thoughtful, measured approach going forward.