Former federal prosecutor says crime ‘has never been this bad’

Michael Bielawski/TNR

KEEPING VERMONT SAFE: The pro-police organization Keep Vermont Safe held the first of a three-part series featuring individuals involved in local leadership or police work within Vermont. From left to right are Michael Hall, former police chief of Manchester; Christina Nolan, former U.S. federal prosecutor; and Brady Toensing, former vice chair of the Vermont GOP.

BURLINGTON — Last week, the pro-police advocacy group Keep Vermont Safe held an event to highlight some of the biggest hurdles to restoring public safety in Burlington amid rising crime owed largely to the “defund the police” movement.

The event, titled “Crime and Punishment,” was hosted by Ericka Redic, an internet content creator and the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House. Around 30 Vermonters attended the forum at City Hall as five speakers took the stage: Michael Hall, former police chief of Manchester; Christina Nolan, former U.S. federal prosecutor;  Brady Toensing, former vice chair of the Vermont GOP; and Christopher-Aaron Felker, candidate for Burlington City Council.

Crime is up big since 2020’s ‘defund the police’

Burlington has had 23 shootings so far this year — 12 involved injuries, and three resulted in deaths. The rise has come following City Council’s decision to defund the city’s police force by about one-third in 2020.

“Things are worse than they have ever been in Burlington,” Christina Nolan said. “We should just call a spade a spade — it has never been this bad and the trends are terrifying.

“Every day I hear parents say they would never let their teenagers walk on Church Street anymore. And it’s worse than that, the parents themselves say I just don’t go to Burlington anymore.”

Qualified Immunity

One of the key topics discussed among panel members was qualified immunity. This immunity shields state and local government officials, including police officers, from being sued for doing their jobs should a citizen claim his or her rights were violated.

Nolan suggested it’s a double standard that some lawmakers want these protections lifted for police, but they will not offer to give up the same protection for themselves.

“The very legislators that want to take qualified immunity away from the police enjoy it for themselves,” Nolan said. “Anyone ever think that a legislator has ever made a bad decision? Well, they can’t be sued for those decisions. And when they pass them, they write these laws to take away qualified immunity for the police, they specifically say ‘nothing about this is meant to get rid of our legislative immunity.'”

Hall, a former police chief, offered insight on what removing qualified immunity for police is going to mean for the already difficult recruitment efforts throughout Vermont.

“I can tell from this discussion on my end of this, and from what I’ve heard from law enforcement people, is that if the state of Vermont does this, you will see an exodus of law enforcement probably comparable to what we’re seeing in Burlington, but at a state-wide level,” he said.

Toensing echoed that sentiment, stating that if qualified immunity is lost in Vermont, “every single police department in Vermont will probably drain itself of any sort of talent.”


Nolan also spent some time discussing the proposal of legalized prostitution and the effects that would have on women’s safety.

“We’re also going to attract human traffickers to Vermont, and more women are going to be raped and abused in the prostitution contexts if this is legal — because the abuser is just going to say, ‘well, this was a legal transaction,'” she said.


Nolan also warned about Fentanyl continuing to be the dominant concern among street drugs, due in part to only a minimal amount can get the user high, and it doesn’t take much more to be deadly.

“Fentanyl is the drug that is killing nearly 100,000 Americans a year and over 200 Vermonters a year,” she said. “… It is incredibly deadly. Just two milligrams of Fentanyl which is the size of the two-grains of salt will kill the average person.

“Right now, a federal prosecutor can’t charge a five-year mandatory minimum unless they have 40 grams of fentanyl. … Now that is 20,000 lethal doses.”

Low morale

Hall said morale is down in police work due to the constant demonizing of police, and that it is becoming an obstacle to recruitment.

“Imagine waking up every morning whether you work in the grocery store, in a factory, or anywhere for that matter, and you woke up every morning knowing that the people that you worked for … don’t appreciate you, want to defund you, and want to look at any opportunity they can to take your livelihood away from you,” Hall said.

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

7 thoughts on “Former federal prosecutor says crime ‘has never been this bad’

  1. The level of violent crime in a once bucolic and safe area is a travesty, but the fact that Vermonters did not nominate Christina Nolan in an open primary to run against the charlatan Welch is equally as appalling.
    It’s good to see that after her primary loss she remains engaged in public safety issues and I wish her well in any future prospects. “Progressive” policies are making Vermont into a lost cause and we the voters have brought it on ourselves.

    • The people that voted for Gerald Malloy are the Real Vermont Republicans. Ms. Nolan was defeated because of Vermonters that actually believe and support the VTGOP Platform,. They said No to another Rino that stated multiple times she supported abortion thru the 2nd Trimester. ( over 99% of abortions are in the first and second trimester. )
      She promised to fight to codify Roe V Wade in all 50 States if elected. She supported the Supreme Court Justice who can’t explain what a Woman is, and has a record of being soft on Child Porn crimes.
      She failed to attend 6 debates with the other Senatorial candidates.

      You can be appalled LaChappelle.

      I am proud to be working with and supporting Gerald Malloy from the beginning of his campaign.
      A 100% Pro Life, Constitutional Republican.
      He will defeat Welch, because Real VT Republicans have someone to vote for that actually Represents them.
      And many of the Democrat voters that understand Welch is a mindless puppet that voted with Pelosi 100% of the time will vote for Gerald Malloy because they know Welch is all in on the agenda to sexually molest children and kill the unborn till the moment of Birth. Welch also is all in on taking their Guns and destroying the 2nd Amendment.
      Gerald Malloy won without any financial support or endorsement from the VTGOP, because they were all in on Ms. Nolan.
      Now we need the 70% of Vermont Republicans that did not vote in the Primary to vote in the General on November 8th.

    • Don’t blame anybody except the “be Kind to criminals” county “prosecutor”

      She doesn’t prosecute, and the judge just follows along with NOTHING TO DETER REPEAT CRIMINALS.


  2. It is perplexing that so few Burlington residents attended this forum. While crime, including violent crime has increased dramatically, there seems to be no uproar from the city’s residents.
    This forum may have been viewed as a political campaign event, but it was a perfect opportunity to make voices heard. I contend that a combination of apathy and fear of the Progressive Burlington political majority labeling any one whom attended may be the cause of such a low turnout.
    I may take some pride in being labeled a ‘deplorable’ and threat to joe biden’s amerikan ‘democracy’
    but there are many that just don’t want to deal with the threats and name-calling from the progressive left.
    And that is one very real threat to our democratic Constitutional Republic.

  3. Just when you think the liberal super majority in the legislature can’t find any more ways to harm the citizens they “represent,” they come up with the idiotic idea that crippling the police will make us all live happily in some weed induced vision of Kumbaya land. Couple that idiocy with a Scott appointed anti police Soros disciple as the state’s attorney in Vermont’s most populous county, and you have a perfect opportunity for the left to turn Burlington into a mini cesspool. I guess that’s the goal. We are all to be equally miserable, except of course, for the elites who run the farm because, although we are all equal, some animals are more equal than others.

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