Embattled Burlington police chief reveals far-left views on policing and social justice issues

MONTPELIER — Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo, who has admitted seeking mental health treatment after using a fake Twitter account to mock a critic over the summer, revealed his far-left views on policing at this month’s First Wednesdays Humanities Lecture Series sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council.

On Dec. 4, the police chief gave a presentation at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier and took questions about the challenges of policing in an age when social justice philosophies are upending traditional ways of thinking about the profession.

During his speech, del Pozo shared personal views on sensitive subjects including police bias, use-of-force, politics and more. In particular, he admitted that his views on policing have drawn significant criticism from fellow law enforcement.

Brandon del Pozo Twitter

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo

“We should always have these guns to protect ourselves and to protect the public, but we should treat the people in crisis as if we didn’t have them,” he said. “It’s an insurance policy, it’s not a means to impose will.”

He added that he shared those views in a recent New York Times Op-ed and received significant opposition from fellow law enforcement.

“[You should see] the hate-mail I got from police officers about what I wrote, ‘have a gun but speak as if you don’t have a gun.’

“They said, ‘You are just trying to get us killed, you don’t take your job seriously, and you’re not man enough to be a cop — and you should turn in your badge,'” del Pozo told his lecture series audience.

The controversy follows a similar Burlington-related flap from August when Progressive City Councilor Perri Freeman urged that the Queen City should disarm its police force, in keeping with certain European nations.

It’s been a difficult year for Burlington’s chief of police.

On Thursday, Seven Days reported that del Pozo sought mental health treatment after creating the anonymous Twitter account @WinkleWatchers to troll local political activist Charles Winkleman.

On July 4, the Burlington chief issued a string of about 10 tweets, quickly deleted the account, and later that month informed Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger of his indiscretion. The mayor placed del Pozo on paid administrative leave in August, and he returned to duty Sept. 15, after being examined by both his doctor and a city-appointed independent medical examiner.

Del Pozo is not from Vermont. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and spent two decades with the NYPD, advancing to deputy inspector before making his way up north to Burlington in 2015.

While in command of the 6th and 50th precincts in New York, he served overseas based in Jordan’s capital, Amman, as an intelligence liaison to the Arab world and India. While there he investigated terror attacks in an effort to better prepare his colleagues back in New York.

During his lecture, del Pozo also expressed his opinions about high-profile social justice controversies in national and local news, siding with social justice advocates in each case.

As one example, he recalled a local incident when controversial activist group Black Lives Matter blocked traffic in Burlington. He said he decided not to make any arrests, and even allowed the protest to continue.

“I said you have, on a one-time basis, blocked traffic to get the attention of the city and the university because you felt like you were being ignored,” he said. “It’s about race in America and about feeling ignored as a person of color. And not only do we have a history of ignoring them, but also of enslaving them, and lynching and segregating. I said you have a claim on this space for tonight.”

He also commented on a high-profile loitering case when two black men were arrested in Philidelphia for refusing to leave a Starbucks after they wouldn’t purchase anything from the store. He said the two men were victims of racial discrimination.

“They had a custodial manager of the premises who was invoking the trespass law,” del Pozo said. “The problem was, in my mind anyway, that the reasons that they were giving for brokering that type of cooperation weren’t reasons that apply to every American.”

During the question and answer period, one member of the lecture series audience suggested that the Burlington Police Department has a history of political discrimination against conservatives. The man said pro-life demonstrators are routinely targeted for police crackdowns, whereas liberal activists get a free pass.

Del Pozo said he does not endorse selective enforcement, and he added that he was not directly involved in the handling of the incidents in question. He reiterated his support for all political demonstrations.

“Political speech should be the most highly protected form of speech regardless of content,” he said.

Another audience member raised the issue of mental health, and del Pozo said that is one of the biggest challenges his officers face on a day-to-day basis, right up there with drug abuse.

“If you ask police officers right now what the biggest crisis is that effects the quality of life in their cities and what is claiming the most human lives, it would be the opioid crisis,” he said. “But then if you ask them what the biggest long-term problem is in American policing, it’s mental health.”

He said the issue intersects with drug abuse, homelessness and crime. He said some of the worst encounters that his officers deal with — often ones that end in fatal shootings by police — are cases that involve someone having a mental breakdown.

He continued that society is still dealing with the fallout of a move away from the institutionalization of mental health victims. He said it’s probably time the society takes more steps to help these people, and until then it’s largely up to the police to deal with them.

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

Image courtesy of Brandon del Pozo Twitter
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11 thoughts on “Embattled Burlington police chief reveals far-left views on policing and social justice issues

  1. Does this come as a surprise to anyone? Burlington has had a socialist government since the early 1980s and has made that characteristic the primary qualification for hiring. It has earned BPD the disdain of the U.S. Marshals and many other federal LEOs.

  2. Truly a nerve wracking experience reading this article knowing a Police officer in Vermont who follows those ideas and has been placed in charge of the largest city in this state.
    My suggestion is that Del Pozo takes a VERY early retirement back to NYC.

  3. Suggestion for the police regarding the mental health establishment’s constant critiques……….

    Next time they get a call about a mental health person violently out of control, like the man who charged two cops with an upraised shovel and many other violent instances……………..
    Just refuse the call and refer it to the mental health Advocates for resolution, at least put the mental health experts up front as they arrive.

    “Mental Health” is NOT Any excuse for ANY violence, EVER, not even carving your wife to death, shooting your gun trainer in the head with 3 shots, Killing 5 youth and threatening dozens more with a wrong way stolen vehicle, or any of the several other “only because of mental health” crimes.

    As soon as the mental health people gain control of the violent person, only then do the police take control!!!

  4. Suggestion for the police regarding the mental health establishment’s constant critiques……….

    Next time they get a call about a mental health person violently out of control, like the man who charged two cops with an upraised shovel and many other violent instances……………..
    Just refuse the call and refer it to the mental health EXPARTS for resolution, at least put the mental health experts up front as they arrive.

    “Mental Health” is NOT Any excuse for ANY violence, EVER, not even carving your wife to death, shooting your gun trainer in the head with 3 shots, Killing 5 youth and threatening dozens more with a wrong way stolen vehicle, or any of the several other “only because of mental health” crimes.

    As soon as the mental health people gain control of the violent person, only then do the police take control!!!

  5. There is a major problem with the Chief’s position on fellow officers’ carrying and use of firearms. He seemed to have forgotten that dead officers have a difficult time unholstering their side arm as a ” last resort” course of action to protect themselves. Perhaps the Cheif should go back to a police academy for a refresher course in the use of fire arms. Just a sugestion.

  6. Perhaps an emphasis on crime reduction rather than politics is in order. Social Justice has nothing to do with fairness or justice. Drugs are a major problem. Social Justice is making it worse.

  7. It’s not the cops job to be a social worker, their the final line when the social work has failed and the
    criminal reverts to hurting and robbing the law abiding citizen.. Del Pozo the bozo is more intune to be
    working in the commie district of NYC where criminals are revered and cops are demeaned…

    Thanks for Your NO VOTE BOB…. Your one of the sane ones left in Montpeculiar….Black
    LIES Matter was born out of the riots created by the Obola missadministration and should receive
    NO SUPPORT….ALL LIVES MATTER especially the ones without a voice *youngest heart beats*

  8. I was one of the few who voted against a House resolution praising Black Lives Matter (130-6) while a member of the VT House because I think that organization is based on a lie and endangers the lives of police officers. However, I admire del Pozo’s restraint in refusing to arrest BLM protesters for their traffic disruption civil disobedience. He gave them a one-time break; that’s it. It reminds me of how proud I was of the ACLU when, many years ago, they defended the right of Nazis to march through some town in Illinois. The more I object to a group’s point of view, the more I want to protect their right to express themselves. If our government gives the real jerks a break from time to time, the rest of us are safer. (Too bad the ACLU has lost its way.)

  9. I’d like to see police officers, del Pozo included, directing the ever-present now gridlock traffic into and out of Burlington in a few key locations every day. Remember when there were actually traffic control officers? Less warm & fuzzy please.

  10. I’ve lived in Burlington for over 68 years, and have personally known two of the
    Police Chiefs in Burlington, they must be rolling over in their graves listening to
    this saga.

    Chief Del Pozo should step down, policing with his biased attitude it just shows
    another transplant to our City and trying to appease Burlington’s Liberal Mayor
    and his agenda………….. disgusting.

    Laws are written to be followed without political party affiliations, what’s good for one
    is good for the other…….

    We have plenty of qualified officers within the Burlington Police Department, Chief
    Delpozo should resign, take your pension and leave !!

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