The Burlington Police Department has tracked 12,217 crimes on record for the year so far, a 26 percent rise over last year, according to the newest Police Chief’s Report.
While the department continues to see crime rise, staffing shortages have been alleviated somewhat with recent new help. Burlington’s City Council voted to reduce police staff by about a third back in summer 2020.
According to the report, four new officers will now be joining the force after recently completing their training. The report details how substantially the staffing levels had changed.
“As of June 15, 2023, the BPD has 64 total sworn officers, of whom 57 are available to be deployed. Historically, headcount has been in the high 90s; currently we are authorized for 87 officers,” it states.
More non-officer help
Unarmed officers known as CSOs, or community service officers, continue to be able to assist the department with less-dangerous incidents around the city.
“These [CSOs] are unarmed, unsworn officers who answer quality-of-life calls for service. BPD currently has six employees in the role, and the budget allots us 11 CSOs and one CSM (or Community Service Manager). The role is also a stepping stone to becoming a police officer,” the report states.
Not every call can get an immediate physical response, however. About 12% — or close to one in 10 calls — have been ‘stacked,’ which means an immediate in-person response by an officer may not have been available due to prioritizing other incidents.
Overdose numbers up more than three-fold
One crime statistic number on the report’s datasheet stands out for a large increase in 2023. That type of incident is drug overdoses, which have hit 201 for the year. By comparison, last year saw 62 drug overdoses. The year-over-year spike will only grow larger, as these totals are only through June 15.
Burglaries are also up
Burglaries are up as well, at 68 in 2023, with half a year left to go. 2022 saw a total of 79 burglaries.
Record bad driving as well
Highway incidents also are on the rise, as “crash with injury or fatal” incidents currently total 55 — up from 46 for the entire year of 2022.
Finally not an ‘interim’ chief
This report was the first chief’s report from Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad, who no longer is merely the “acting” chief of police.
The report quotes Murad from the night after City Council voted 8-4 to make him the city’s permanent police chief.
“I’m honored by the Mayor’s confidence and my fellow department heads, who stayed for the vote even after their own well-deserved reappointments were done. I’m gratified by the Council vote, and I deeply respect the service of the eight councilors who voted aye and of the four who didn’t,” Murad is quoted as saying.