Brattleboro Police chief warns against public takeover of disciplining officers

Brattleboro Police Department

POLICE OVERSIGHT: Brattleboro is experiencing struggles with the same police staffing, morale, and rising crime issues as other police departments are facing across Vermont and throughout the nation.

On the “Morning Drive” radio show earlier this month, Brattleboro Police Chief Norma Hardy explained why recent calls to allow the public to take over the disciplinary process for officers suspected of misconduct — and cutting out the chief from that process — is a bad idea.

“Policing has been built on a certain structure, and even though we have worked towards changing the structure of policing as to how we relate to the public, we still need to maintain a certain structure because of the work that we do,” Hardy said on the show. “It comes with the training, it comes with the discipline, and it comes with how people handle very high voltage situations, and they have to have someone to look to for that.”

Brattleboro Police Department

Brattleboro Police Chief Norma Hardy

Brattleboro’s chief further emphasized that having civilians discipline officers means that their peers and superiors, the ones who know and understand the nature of police work best, would not be part of the disciplinary process.

“You also have to have someone that officers feel they will be treated fairly by, and they will be treated fairly by someone who understands what the job entails,” she said. “And I don’t believe that a civilian would quite grasp that and understand all the intricate details of what the job entails.”

Hardy continued that it’s also important not to “destroy” someone’s career simply because they made a mistake.

Policing data too negative and misrepresented

On the issue of police data, the chief said it can be misused or misunderstood, and oftentimes focuses on the negative.

“We tend to use data to show a lot of negative, and one of the questions that I always ask is, ‘OK, can we use data to show any of the positive?'”

Hardy added that there have been instances when an issue was brought to her attention and, ultimately, the data didn’t add up to the narrative.

“Some data that I’ve had tossed at me, I didn’t find that it was accurate,” she said.

Public advocacy groups have pointed to ticketing data about the percentage of tickets given out according to race, and suggested that the numbers show proof of racial bias. But those speaking in defense of police have noted that officers can’t see who is driving a car at night or in high-speed violations. In addition, Vermont police issue tickets to many out-of-state motorists who are driving along Vermont’s highway system.

Second highest crime rate in Vermont

Brattleboro has the second highest crime rate in the state, second only to St. Albans. Hardy explained that while it’s difficult to identify root causes, drug abuse is often involved.

“Right now what we are seeing is a lot of the burglaries that we are dealing with at night, of course. But I can’t say that it’s one thing I can put my finger on that is causing this because there are so many things that would drive these types of crimes,” she said. “We have not seen some of the levels of violent crime that we’re witnessing across the state and across the country.”

She noted that drug abuse continues to drive crime.

“I do believe that, unfortunately, the opioid crisis has to be a major factor,” Hardy said.

A lack of accountability

Hardy said another problem is a lack of accountability for repeat offenders of certain types of crimes.

“If you have someone that continuously commits the same crime over and over again and there is no [consequence], what is really going to stop this person from having this course of behavior?” she said.

A supportive select board

Hardy said the Brattleboro Selectboard seems to be supportive of the department’s efforts to protect the public.

“I do believe that the Brattleboro Selectboard will continue to support us, as they have been in every way possible,” she said.

The entire 18-minute interview can be heard online here.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Brattleboro Police Department

11 thoughts on “Brattleboro Police chief warns against public takeover of disciplining officers

  1. I am surprised that the town of Brattleboro hasn’t had their town attorney look into the legal issues of “discipline by Committee”. I would think there would be some serious considerations for any of those “woke” candidates that might otherwise line up to be on it.

  2. Any law enforcement officer employed in Vermont is subject to several layers of oversight and micro-management. It is no longer about public safety or maintaining law and order. It is all about a select group of inept bureaucrats, rogue prosecutors, corrupt judges, pandering elected officials, and stupefied, ignorant citizens. A dangerous group that will one day find themselves facing charges violating the criminal code, civic duty code, and Constitutional law. The actions and conduct of the equity cartel is a front to steal and launder millions upon millions of taxpayer’s money. They utilize tax loopholes, strong arm politicians, demoralize and subjugate citizens to achieve their insidious, nefarious goals. It is high time law enforcement officials to do their duty as public safety officers and join lawful citizens to fight this enemy and call them out for what they truly are – a criminal syndicate.

  3. Vigilantes didn’t work out so well in the wild west and would work even worse for the discipline of police which the public knows very little about their job. We see what happens when the public gets involved with police in Burlington as a prime example. When citizens “feelings” get involved common sense goes out the door. A better idea is a officers from different agencies get together and decide.

  4. This is legally ridiculous. Every business, organization and institution has employees reporting to someone. That “someone” legally represents the organization and has legal authority to hire, fire, and discipline. So now the woke Progs think they can summarily change the legal relationship between employees and their supervisor and organization.
    They are idiots because I’m guessing that should this occur, the first unlawful termination suit that is charged against this “discipline committee” would have it’s members running for those verdant hills and not looking back.

  5. The Police Chief Hardy needs to hold her ground, liberal fools think they have an answer
    for all police department issues and concerns, they don’t have a clue but they have a hate
    the police agenda.

    If a person ” the public ” has a background in policing, maybe one would listen, but we all
    know it’s all about an agenda, paint the police as ” bad ” and incompetent, pretty sad until
    the need a cop……………………

  6. This idea of the public taking over the disciplinary process for police officers without the departments input sounds very much like VT taking away the rights parents have to make decisions for their children: as in abortions or keeping secrets from parent about sex identity changes. Probably these are the same people who think we could survive without a police department. I find it interesting that it takes local police/Sheriffs/state police and the national guard to keep evil people from completely destroying us! I realize they are not perfect, but I will take then any day of the week!

    • OK then, take a city, let’s say Brattleboro, and in the interest of social justice, defund the Police Dept to the point of being a for-hire ambulance squad.
      Give it a year and see what happens…

      The only real problem would be those who would take this approach seriously.

  7. The ultimate goal of the WEFers is to get rid of local police and to federalize (NATO) the system. With that said, what measures can we take to help insure this doesn’t happen?

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