Keelan: Sen. Dick Sears no longer supports law enforcement

By Don Keelan

Bennington County’s state senator, Richard (Dick) Sears, the Vermont Senate’s Judiciary Committee chair, has sold out to the left-wing political lobbying organization, Vermont Public Interest Research Group. No one should even think of applying to become a Vermont law enforcement officer.

Furthermore, at a time when the state’s cities and towns can least afford it, maybe those currently in law enforcement should consider relocating to another state.

state of Vermont

Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington

As if it was not difficult enough to be in law enforcement, Sen. Dick Sears is proposing legislation removing qualified immunity as a legal defense for Vermont policing personnel.

For the moment, set aside the nature of the legislation and the organizations to which Sears has capitulated. The sworn officer ranks of law enforcement agencies in Vermont are already decimated from outright resignations and early retirement.

Vermont State Police, with an authorized strength of 333 troopers, recently reported that it has over 50 vacant positions. Add to these numbers the wholesale dissolution of the Burlington and Rutland police forces and what the respective municipalities are attempting to do in re-staffing. It is unprecedented. Burlington is even offering a $15,000 signing bonus to police recruits, and the crisis is not limited to Vermont’s two largest cities.

Just ask the Manchester, Brattleboro, Springfield, Vergennes, and Shelburne town leaders, among others, who witnessed the tidal wave of law enforcement officers’ resignations that occurred and continued to occur before the late December announcement by Senator Sears and his allies at the ACLU, NAACP, and VPIRG.

Sen. Sears’ recent statement on qualified immunity was one of the most disingenuous pronouncements I have ever heard from a politician. When Sears made his announcement, he was emphatic that the time has come to remove the U.S. Supreme Court legal doctrine of qualified immunity for police and that every cop should be held personally accountable for their actions. In the same breath, he stated that he has always supported the police and those in law enforcement. Maybe he should sit in on exit interviews.

The crux of the proposed legislation is that a police officer could be held personally and financially accountable to up to $25,000 per incident per person. If passed, every police officer (trooper) will be wise to carry malpractice insurance and have a lawyer on retainer. Good luck to any officer looking to obtain bank credit for a loan or mortgage with such a contingent liability hanging over their head.

The legislation is unnecessary, and recent events have proven it so. Over the past 12 months, the municipalities of Burlington and Bennington have paid out hundreds of thousands to families and individuals who had brought accusations against the police. Vermont localities recognize the poor performance of its police and are willing to accept responsibility and pay restitution.

What is needed is more policing in Vermont. In Sen. Sears’ hometown of Bennington, there is a severe spike of possible gang activity emanating from Massachusetts, illegal drug distribution, deaths from overdoses, and the continuing rise in domestic abuse. Perhaps the conversation should address these problems instead of being steered to the discussion of removing qualified immunity.

Over the years, academic experts have noted that Vermont policing was, in some districts, directed at the BIPOC community when it came to police stops. Much has changed through education, training, and, of course, the insertion of cameras in police cars and on-person. Presently, each Vermont state trooper has no less than four cameras.

There well might have been a time when Sen. Sears supported law enforcement, but that was in the past. He now has swung his support to the far left, and one can only wonder what he expects to receive.

What would Sears say if qualified immunity was removed from the actions of the Vermont Senate and that institution was to hold its members personally responsible for the $5 billion unfunded Vermont pension system?

Vermont needs well-vetted, trained, supervised, and compensated law enforcement. Not the removal of qualified immunity.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.

Image courtesy of state of Vermont
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23 thoughts on “Keelan: Sen. Dick Sears no longer supports law enforcement

  1. It is time to stand up, speak up and fight back against the Socialist liberals who have taken over not just our nation ,but our State of Vermont.
    We must elect Republican patriots
    who will stand up for our Constitutional individual Rights, Freedoms and Opportunities.
    We have had enough government control of our lives, our children, private enterprise, private property, energy sources, and more.
    The time is NOW!

  2. I’d say Sears has some explaining to do. I had thought of Sears as somewhat reasonable and a positive influence in the state senate, similar to Mazza and Brock. Apparently I’m wrong again.
    The qualified immunity granted police seems required for police to police- similar to imdecification of legislators, select boards and city councils. Looks like Sears now thinks not- and needs to explain his position. Removal of qualified immunity is a big step toward anarchy and mob-rule.

  3. Dick Sears is a communist as is Randy Brock, Phil Scott, et al. Senator Joe McCarthy was right all those years ago. Infiltration, not invasion. Crimes against humanity.

  4. No Federal Statute grants ‘qualified immunity’ – it was manufactured and implemented entirely by the Supreme Court.

    USSC Justice Scalia stated in his dissent in ‘Crawford-El v. Britton’:

    ‘The Supreme Court finds itself engaged…in the essentially legislative activity of crafting a sensible scheme of qualified immunities for the statute we have invented – rather than applying the common law embodied in the statute that Congress wrote.’

    USSC Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledges there is no basis for qualified immunity in the original intent of the law.

    How did we survive for 206 years as a nation without qualified immunity? Everybody should at least be consistent – if you believe the judicial branch can invent this, then certainly they can continue inventing other things that aren’t mentioned in any statute – such as abortion rights.

    Strange that Senator Sears sides with Scalia and Thomas on this issue.

  5. Please be aware that QUALIFIED immunity does not mean that there is COMPLETE immunity. Where intentional acts of wrongdoing by the police occurs , there still is potential liability. All public officials have qualified immunity. Why are they singling out those much needed people?

  6. Senator Sears has the ACLU, NACCP and VPRIG prodding him to eliminate qualified immunity for the police……..What’s the motivation of these groups?

    About a year ago, when Burlington YMCA President Kyle Dobson, a prominent black man, was hired to look into transforming the Burlington Police Department, he ran into a brick wall attempting to work with the community and little was accomplished. In explaining the difficulties he encountered, Dobson stated: “The community didn’t want transformation. Blacks and activists want revenge,” Dodson said. “That’s understandable, but it’s deeply problematic.”

    https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2021/03/26/dodson-plagiarized-portions-of-report-on-burlington-police-transformation

    Black and activist groups plus left wing lobbyists are now pushing for what some could say is “revenge” against the police. Given Dobson’s serious charge that “Blacks and activists want revenge”, the motivation for the push for qualified immunity becomes a serious issue that needs to be looked into by Senator Sears and his Judiciary Committee before any action is taken on qualified immunity.

  7. TNR let me fix the headline on this for you:

    “Vermont goes from attracting tourists to attracting criminals”.

    I dare say that one of the most basic and vital things that the taxpayers expect for their tax dollars is Safety.
    And I don’t mean Safety for the Criminals !!

  8. Can we have the same bill for every time politicians, lie, cheat, steal, work for lobbyists, and don’t support the constitution?

    Now we’d be talking.

    Meanwhile the VTGOP is spending the Uniparty kick backs, praising NWO pimps.

    Vermont is in the trouble we are, because one team gave up and went home. Time for a new coach and recruiting new players. They don’t even know what country they represent. United Nations or Vermont Citizens…..

    Vermonters, think we need change? Here’s your sign.

  9. January 04th, 2022

    Shouldnt be a surprise that a career pathological lieing Fascist scumbag Communist narcissist like Dick Sears, who is obviously another career politician whom has taken his Oath to Uphold Support and Defend the US & Vermont Constitutions & represent Vermonters with his fingers crossed and has never and never will take it seriously and it seems they have always intended to carry out yhis unConstitutional Illegal BS from the start.. All these organizations non profits maybe Foeign Commies also that are controlling/ supporting these idiot do nothing leftists and fake Republican Conservatives with giving them all these stupid ideas, policies, and racist hateful divisive legislation including the scummy state unions are all Communist Socialist Fascists.. The one thing they (Communists Socialists) have wanted since Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Che, Chinese Communist Party, Castro, Biden, Obama, Clinton, McCain, Kerry, Ayatollahs & Racist evil Islamists & the many more criminal leftist tyrants or just weak weak sheeple Republicans have all crawled out of Hell is the destruction of a Free America, destruction of American Patriotism, the Constitution, and really just destroying everything about America. All these scumbags from local level like here in Brattleboro to the State & Federal levels that support all this crazy Fascism, Racism, Socialism and Communism including advocating and pushing an unconstitutional & illegal USA destroying agenda they are all guilty of Subversion Sedition and Treason especially the career politicians and Government Employees. I thank the Founding Fathers everyday for this Country and the means to defend it. If I may why doesn’t Dick Sears like nor want Police in Vermont? What is he hiding? What is in his past that Vermonters should make inquiry into? Does he just not want Police who work for Americans? Or does Dick Sears, the Vermont idiots group of Lieberal Commies and those non profit lefty groups supporting them and pushing this crap want something like the Red Guards, the S.S or Gestapo, or KGB whom work for and answer to their Party? I haven’t decided yet but Texas and Floridas calls to move there are getting louder everyday!

    • Gotta remember, after a politician’s first term, they are making decisions that will assure themselves enough votes for another term, not necessarily for the good of the citizens and their state.

    • Andrew that is exactly who he wants: A group that works for their party and not us.
      Barry himself told us this on his campaign trail in 2008; “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objective that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”

      Now Andrew, who do you think is still running the show from his basement?

      It looks like the Vermont Senator is All In on The Plan..

      What the Left does is divides us. They are creating the same exact conditions here on our soil that has had some countries in the Middle East at war with each other forever.
      I can see the rise of their gestapo coming- which our guys will ultimately wind up fighting and here we go.
      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is all going- just a history book.

  10. Another terrible slam at our beleagured Law Enforcemtnt Police.

    They need our full support – not suspicious meddling.
    Handcucuff the fugitives and violent criminals, not our cops who serve us so well.

    There have always been ways to deal with rogue Cops, OR those who make occasional mistakes

  11. I have plenty of ammo.
    Police officers should be held responsible for negligent behaviour that causes injury of death. As long as such should occur while on duty, officers shouldn’t be sued by the public. If an officer has enough investigations into their behavior and the town has doled out enough funds in lawsuits then the town should take action. The last thing Vermont towns need are police departments reduced to ineffectiveness. Leftist police defunding is one of the more stupid politico stunts.

  12. There are few long-serving democrats that i can truly say I have had a healthy respect for, but Sen. Sears has always been one of them. This lack of advocacy he is showing for the law enforcement community seems way out of character for him, unless he is willing to treat all other public employees the same as far as holding them personally responsible for any damage they did on the job. What a shame. Sen. Sears, you owe Vermonters a clear explanation of your rationale for this proposal.

    • I also used to think that Sears was a stable force in the Senate full of liberal carpetbaggers but not any more. He sold out our constitution over a stupid kid who bought a shotgun and supported King Phillip’s gun control fiasco.
      With china and Russia becoming aggressive and with Pansy Trudeau in Canada, northern border states like Vermont would be in the defensive plan if our country was invaded from the north. This is why the second amendment was written and the words are ” A well regulated militia being necessary to the SECURITY of a FREE state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. So, the common sense ignored here would mean that Vermonters defending the state would have to do so with 10 round magazines. Now, more uncommon sense pushed onto the people to defend themselves when the crime gets to a certain point with law enforcement decimated and the people are forced to act. Criminals do not have 10 round magazines either. The goal appears to be to make the public more dependent on themselves for their safety and security. There comes a point when government is working for the people and that time is now. Witness the upcoming disaster in this year’s legislative fiasco. Leave the police alone and stop poisoning our children. This government is long past the point of needing to be replaced by honest representatives of the people and Vermont restored to Freedom.

  13. This State has a hard enough time keeping quality law enforcement now. If they pass this bill, there won’t be any police. What idiots. Best be stocking up on ammo..

    • We know what the military does when they can’t get ‘quality’ recruits – they lower standards. I’d prefer fewer LE officers rather than more with dubious backgrounds and no concern for our Constitutional rights.

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