Crowd gathers to support Burlington Police Department

SUPPORTING THE MEN IN BLUE: About 20 people came out Tuesday to show support for local police in front of the Burlington Police Department.

BURLINGTON — About 20 people gathered Tuesday in front of the Burlington Police Department to hold signs and share cheers with passing motorists to boost the morale of local officers besieged by anti-police trends across the country.

The idea to show up at the station began weeks ago when Burlington resident and former city councilor Paul Decelles said he was sick of negative attitudes about police, including the recent decision by the City Council to defund the department by 30 percent.

He decided to order a pro-police flag and, originally, stood outside the department by himself.

“I was frustrated, so I bought the flag and I stood out here over on that corner for two hours by myself,” he told True North on Tuesday.

Decelles said when he got home later that evening, there were people on social media talking about what he had done. Shortly after, he came back out with about 10 other supporters. However, that drew counter-protesters.

“They belittled us. They called us white supremacists. They asked us if we left our hoods at home,” he said. “We’re simply a bunch of Burlington folks and Chittenden County folks who appreciate what Burlington officers do for us every day. This is not a political statement — you see no Trump signs or things like that. We are just here to support law enforcement.”

RELATED: Montpelier police chiefs push back on calls to defund departments

At Tuesday’s event, at least one counter-protester, James Dye of Burlington, showed up with a Black Lives Matter sign. Unlike the previous counter-protest, the interactions between rallyers were civil.

“The great thing about being in America is we all have the ability to voice our opinions, and I agree with some of what they are saying,” Dye said. ” … I think we should be supporting the police department, but I think we should be condemning when they are not providing safety to all of our citizens.”

Michael Bielawski/TNR

Rallygoers line both sides of the street to show support for Burlington police.

Dye said that despite their differences, he was able to converse with police supporters in a friendly manner.

Kurt Wright, a former city councilor and state legislator, said citizens need to recognize that police are essential to community safety.

“What the other side and Black Lives Matter should understand is that police are important and they have an incredibly important job, and that we ought to be thanking them,” he said.

“Police aren’t perfect, just like teachers aren’t perfect, doctors aren’t perfect. And when there is a bad police officer, they should be weeded out. But for any movement to suggest that we should slash police departments or paint all police in the same brush is a huge mistake.”

Tammy Daly was another local resident to come out in support of local police. She said the reception from passing motorists was encouraging.

“There’s definitely been more honks and waves than negative,” she said. ” … We all matter, and we need these police to protect us.”

Other supporters expressed their views that police need encouragement, not jeers.

“I was born and brought up in Burlington, I’ve lived here for 65 years,” said Patrick McCann of Burlington. “The Burlington Police Department is the reason the city is safe. [Think of] what they did to clean up North Street, what they did to clean up the lakefront, what they did to clean up Roosevelt Park. … You can walk up and down North Street now. Without the Burlington P.D., you wouldn’t be able to.”

Kevin King, another local resident, said continued threats and intimidation toward the police will lead to difficulties in finding people to do the job.

“If we continue on the road that we are going we’re not going to have any police,” he said. “They are all going to transfer out of Burlington because of all the problems that come along with living in our community.”

Vermont House candidate Alice Flanders, of Hartford, is an African American and former military officer running to represent the Windsor-4-2 District. She told True North she supports local police across the state.

“I think that it’s important that the people here in Vermont know that it’s OK to say this isn’t right,” she said. “I’m going to be bold to tell you that all lives matter. Our officers in blue, they very much matter. When they put themselves out on the line, they don’t even know if they are going to be coming home again.”

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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6 thoughts on “Crowd gathers to support Burlington Police Department

  1. There are bad cops and there are good cops. Men like Chauvin give the police a black eye. It is unfortunate many like him populate police departments. There are underlying reasons for this, and they are police unions and politics. These influence departmental guidelines and their interpretations which regulate police behaviour. While those guidelines do not support unbridled and death dealing force, internal and external pressure will create a culture of turning a blind eye. This is wherein the problem lays.
    BLM may think that overall defunding of police will bring about an end to mistreatment by aggressive policemen but it will not. Police departments in VT are usually under budgeted. Defunding them will only make it more difficult for them to maintain order and peace. All police departments could use additional funding specifically dedicated to behavioral training. So, when an individual is approached by an officer and he or she has to endure a tirade of abusive and denigrating verbage, or aggressive behavior they can effectively deal with it while carrying out their assigned duties. Less policing means more crime. Investing money in poor neighborhoods for better education, drug interdiction, better job opportunities, etc., with properly executed law enforcement, is crucial to changing old problems for the good of all.
    Do I think that this is the simple solution to a cure all for social problems. Not hardly. Society has 6000 years of bad behavior to overcome.

  2. Law abiding citizens support the police. Law abiding people don’t burn their cities down, beat elderly people, vandalize property and steal. What I find interesting is with some exception the majority of the violators I see on TV are white.

  3. People who want to de-fund or eliminate the police fall into two categories: either they are too stupid to understand how vulnerable they would be to crime and chaos afterword or they are criminals looking to make the weak vulnerable to crime and chaos. Both apparently fall under the result of a poor public education and lack of critical thinking. I support the police, who you going to call?

  4. Author unknown

    I was a police officer . . .

    Today, I will not answer the radio call that your boyfriend has come home drunk and is beating you again.

    Today, I will not answer the radio call that your 16 year-old daughter, who is very responsible, is four hours late coming home from school.

    Today, I will not answer the radio call that your store has been robbed or your house has been burglarized.

    Today, I will not stop a drunk driver from killing someone. I will not catch a rapist or a murderer or a car thief.

    Today, I will not answer the radio call that a man has a gun or tried to abduct a child or that someone has been stabbed or has been in a terrible accident.

    Today, I will not save your child that you locked in a car, or the child you were too busy to watch who went outside and fell into the swimming pool, but that I revived.

    No, today I will not do that.

    Why?

    Today, I was suspended from duty for doing my job, because the media, leftists, community organizers, and a mayor who ran on an anti-police agenda — all who know nothing about policing — have vilified my profession.

    Because . . .

    Today, I was killed by a drunk driver while I was helping push a disabled car off the highway.

    Today, I was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop to simply tell someone that they had a taillight out.

    Today, I was killed in a traffic accident rushing to help a citizen.

    Today, I was shot and killed serving a warrant on a known drug dealer.

    Today, I was killed by a man when I came by to do a welfare check because his family was too busy.

    Today, I was killed trying to stop a bank robbery or a grocery store robbery.

    Today I was killed doing my job.

    A chaplain and an officer will go to a house and tell a mom and dad or a wife or husband or a child that their son or daughter or husband or wife or father or mother won’t be coming home today.

    The flags at many police stations will be flown at half-mast today but most people won’t know why.

    There will be a funeral and my fellow officers will come, a 21-gun salute will be given, and taps and bagpipes will be played as I am laid to rest.

    My name will be put on a plaque, on a wall, in a building, in a city somewhere.

    A folded flag will be placed on a mantel or a bookcase in a home somewhere and a family will mourn.

    There will be no cries for justice.
    There will be no riots in the streets.
    There will be no officers marching, screaming “no justice, no peace.”

    No citizens will scream that something must be done.
    No windows will be smashed, no cars burned, no stones thrown, no names called.

    Only someone crying themselves to sleep tonight will be the only sign that I was cared about.

    I was a police officer.

  5. Terrific! This should be happening everywhere. Burlington, keep it up! Let’s hope you started something!

  6. Outstanding, I hope the Police realize they have the full support of the tax paying
    home owners, and not the flatlanders that have slithered into the City for it handouts.

    Burlington has the most diverse police force I have ever seen in my 69 years, and
    thanks for the great job you do day in and day out, it’s pathetic you have no support
    from City Hall, but then again just look at any City in the US run by DemocRATs and
    it the same, pure chaos …………………….

    The only problem with Burlington is the Liberal Cancer we have running the City,
    and responding to the hype ” Defund ” the police what a crock………….

    The Queen City, what a disgrace !!

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