Burlington Police chief notes just 65 officers now available, ‘Priority 3’ calls rarely responded to

At the Burlington Police Commission meeting Tuesday evening, Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad gave an update on the department’s staff level of physically able and available officers, which is currently at a low point of 65.

Murad noted that certain types of calls considered “Priority 3” may not see an officer response. Or, an unarmed, unsworn officer may have to take on the duty.

A count of 65 available officers is 31 below what the chief has previously said is needed to provide adequate coverage for the city — about 96 officers. Murad noted at the meeting that regular obligations to protect citizens could be compromised.

Wikimedia Commons/Mike Shaheen

NOW POLICE ARE LEAVING: Sixteen officers have left the Burlington Police Department in the past year and none have been hired, according to Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad.

“We have a contractual obligation to keep a certain number of officers in the detective bureau, and frankly a workload obligation as well, and you can’t function below a certain level,” he said. “We have requirements by the federal government and by the TSA to keep a certain number of officers at the airport based on the number of gates that are there and so I can’t take from that.”

He added that when officers do leave, it’s usually the ones that are at the front lines for public safety.

“The only place that we lose from, every time we lose an officer, is a USB, which is the Uniformed Services Bureau which is patrol,” Murad said. “Which are the people who answer calls for service from the public. And so that is a real challenge for us.”

The Burlington City Council made headlines on Monday night in a rare unanimous acceptance of a pro-police initiative to use federal COVID-19 relief money as $10,000 bonuses to the remaining officers to persuade them to stay on the force.

“It was a statement, I believe, that there is a sense of value from the community about what officers do and the role that officers have,” he said. ” … We’re really happy about that because we are in a tough spot in regards to staffing.”

Murad told the council that he had seen 16 officers leave his force in the past year and he has not been able to hire one.

The council has approve some new staff positions, however.

“We have conditional offers to all three SL positions that we were authorized by the city council,” he said. “That was the pilot plan that called for three. My buildout of that plan would be six.”

He said that the department has four CSOs, or community service officers, in training. These civilian officers cost less in salary, are unarmed, and can help with certain non-emergency “priority 3” calls that remaining regular officers have become too busy to handle.

“Very, very important,” he said. “Something for us to be able to develop new capacities for an un-armed response for un-sworn officers, and we are hopeful that those are going to be able to help us to address what we are currently unable to address, which is a significant volume of what we call priority 3 calls, we simply can’t go to those anymore.”

Murad said there was a discussion with the Burlington School District about what the department is going to have to do without having school resource officers on the scene. He did not elaborate at the meeting on what those mitigations might be. According to the National Sherriff’s Association, not having an officer on the scene could make a substantial impact on the outcome of a school shooting.

“The average school shooting lasts 12.5 minutes, while the average police response time is 18 minutes,” the NSA states. “The importance of short notification times in these situations cannot be overstated. Shaving even seconds off the notification and response times can result in vastly different outcomes in these situations.”

Murad also said the department had discussions with the Howard Center on protocols for dealing with mental-health-related situations, including how to safely bring these people into custody when they are potentially a threat to themselves or others.

Tuesday’s meeting can be viewed online. The chief’s report begins about 45 minutes into the video.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Burlington Police Department and Wikimedia Commons/Mike Shaheen

5 thoughts on “Burlington Police chief notes just 65 officers now available, ‘Priority 3’ calls rarely responded to

  1. They will reap what they sow. Yet, they are the first to call 911 should their laptop go missing or someone sends them a harsh email or leaves a voice mail telling them to go to Hell.

    • I’ve often wondered if the lowlings on the Left have noticed that they program their people to be big wimps that need safe spaces as they then create policies that put those very wimpy people in more and more danger.
      When we say that they always eat their own, that is what that looks like.

      This country is being destroyed from within by these people and this has been allowed to happen by the people we elect, because we don’t tar and feather them anymore for not working for us.

  2. It’s all just theater to destabilize the city and take away the guns.

    It’s obvious though that the people are fed up just like the guy breaking the window the other day; can’t really be a coincidence. I don’t ever remember reading that in the news before.

  3. So the gaggle of fools known as the Burlington City Council, apparently knows what’s
    needed to run an efficient police department correct, or are they just listening to the liberal’s
    protestors that are more clueless than the City Council !!

    Burlingtonians should be calling every city council member when they need the police
    and they can’t respond to your needs or safety, I guess they can resolve your situation
    and don’t forget the Mayor the so-called leader of the city………….

    Here the gaggle list !!

    Ward 1
    Zoraya Hightower
    (802) 391-4333

    Ward 2
    Max Tracy
    City Council President
    (802) 373-1968

    Ward 3
    Joe Magee
    (802) 279-5513

    Ward 4
    Sarah E Carpenter
    (802) 658-0474

    Ward 5
    William “Chip” Mason
    (802) 373-8545

    Ward 6
    Karen Paul
    (802) 863-3817

    Ward 7
    Ali N Dieng
    (802) 318-2527

    Ward 8
    Jane Stromberg
    (845) 544-4143

    Perri Freeman
    (802) 373-2685

    Jack Hanson
    (802) 557-0605

    Mark Barlow

    Joan Shannon
    (802) 860-7489

  4. take away thier guns then encourage race violence.. its thier MO .. they should end public police and make it a private institution but what they are doing is trying to start a divide

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