Progressives on Burlington City Council block police chief confirmation, mayor says Murad stays

Progressives on Burlington City Council blocked the confirmation of Jon Murad as the city’s police chief Monday night despite support by half of city councilors, the city’s police union and Mayor Miro Weinberger.

By a 6-6 vote, the council’s Progressives said no to the appointment of the city’s acting police chief, citing social justice concerns and racial disparities in policing statistics.

Weinberger announced the appointment Thursday, citing Murad’s excellent record as acting chief since summer 2020, along with his lengthy prior work as a sergeant and detective for the New York Police Department — including experience as an officer in Bronx. Murad was born in Burlington and lived in Underhill before earning his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Harvard.

Burlington Police Department Facebook

STILL ACTING: Acting Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad will continue to be ‘acting’ chief following a vote by Burlington City Council on Monday night that denied him a permanent position.

The Progressives who voted to block Murad are City Council President Max Tracy, Ward 2; Zoraya Hightower, Ward 1; Joe Magee, Ward 3; Jane Stromberg, Ward 8; Perri Freeman, Central district; and Jack Hanson, East district.

In a statement released following the meeting, Weinberger said Murad would stay on as acting chief of police, and hinted that the upcoming election in March could soon result in majority support from new council members.

“Chief Murad will be Burlington’s chief so long as he continues to serve as a full partner with the administration and the Burlington community in forging progress on our urgent public safety challenges and advancing police transformation,” the mayor said. “It is my sincere hope that at some point soon a majority of the council joins us in this critical work.”

During the lengthy public hearing ahead of Monday night’s vote, former city council president Kurt Wright spoke strongly in favor of the chief, and warned that more officers may quit if the council does not support Murad.

“I’ve spoken to a number of police officers and they have let me know that this will be the last straw for some of them. We cannot afford to continue down this path,” he said. “We need to find every way possible to enhance recruitment and retention, and supporting Chief Murad is one important action that will also add much-needed stability to a department in near crisis.”

Local resident Garrett Graff was among those who spoke out for Murad’s confirmation.

“Overhanging this chief of police search over the last two years has been the sense that … somehow with Jon you aren’t getting a candidate that’s fully committed to police reform nor someone who would care about the community and the way that it deserves to be. I strongly believe that impression is wrong,” he said.

Cliff Cooper, a resident of the city for 50 years, said it’s no longer safe for his family to stay out late in the downtown area.

“I can just tell you that our kids are 30 and 33, and we’ve warned them when they come to town to be careful going downtown and don’t stay there later because of what’s happening in this city,” he said.

Cooper added he was disturbed to learn from the Police Commission meeting the prior evening that the lack of support for police in the city is making it hard to get enough officers to carry out arrests of criminals.

But Alexandra Karambelas, a project manager for COVID Support VT, spoke out against the appointment. She said that Burlington residents are “building a consensus around the need for accountability within our policing systems.”

“We need a leader who shares this goal, who recognizes the data-supported racial bias that exists within the department and actively seeks accountability for these actions, none of which has happened under his tenure,” she said.

Karambelas said because a higher percentage of minorities are involved in incidents with police, that’s sufficient evidence that the police are “directing” their law enforcement towards these groups.

“He has refused to acknowledge racial disparities within the department’s policing,” she said, adding that Murad has denied that racial bias is the known cause of a higher percentage of arrests and uses of force against black suspects.

In the past Murad has pointed out that when it comes to ticketing, for example, officers get an unfair bad rap from the data. He noted his officers are identifying vehicles that are speeding or making suspicious moves, and that they are “seeing a car behave in a certain way, not a driver.”

At the meeting Monday night, Murad said if he finds that racial bias is what is causing disparities in arresting minorities, he “will take action on that.”

“What I see is not bias in the hearts of officers,” he said.

Amanda Skehan spoke in favor of Murad largely due to his support for the Restorative Justice program which aims to help nonviolent offenders participate in various community services to avoid or reduce time in prison systems.

“It’s important to have a chief that recognizes the usefulness of that, and the value of embracing that even more so going forward,” she said.

Weinberger wrote in his endorsement letter that Murad has excelled in the face of adversity.

“He has served the Department with distinction and for the last year and a half, has led the Burlington Police Department as Acting Chief through one of the most challenging periods in its 150-year history. At a time when so many are stepping away from the challenges of policing and the contentiousness of the current public arena, Chief Murad is stepping up.”

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

Image courtesy of Burlington Police Department Facebook

10 thoughts on “Progressives on Burlington City Council block police chief confirmation, mayor says Murad stays

  1. Chief Murad needs to stay and be confirmed as the permanent Chief for the Burlington Police Department.
    I have family that lives in Burlington. I don’t want to think that their safety depends on the delusional, moronic decisions of six bed-wetting progressive whack jobs…

  2. Acting Chief Murad has an exemplary record as an officer of the law and is a class act in his official dealings with the public. He would be an asset to any law enforcement agency in the free world and Burlington has so far passed up the opportunity to name him as permanent Chief. Unfortunately, some members of the City Council harbor an innate and systemic bias against this man due to a hereditary condition he suffers from known as MDS, Melanin Deficiency Syndrome, also known as Honkie Syndrome. If it were not for this affliction, which he has endured his entire life, he would otherwise be considered completely qualified for the position. I call upon the City Council to re-examine their biases, check their privilege and open their minds to the idea that someone who suffers from MDS can be a fully functioning and contributing member of society.

  3. The ideological fantasy of the Progressives is downright pathological, the fact that Burlington voters put them in power is as pathological .

    • Weinberger seems to have maneuvered the progs into a corner. We’ll see what the results of March 1 voting is. Burlington as it stands is now a broken city, much the same as NYC, San Francisco and most other liberal run cities in the US. Until the voters of Burlington hold their elected and unelected officials accountable, the decline will continue. The fantasy of progressive thinking is just that, fantasy. Socialism then communism is the inevitable end result, with Burlington firmly in the socialist government mode. Bernie Sanders isn’t to blame, even though his tenure as mayor forever changed Burlington for the worse. Voter apathy in 1981 is the cause of Burlington’s current state of affairs- Sanders beat the infirm and ineffective Gordon Pauquette by 10 votes. The rest is history as avowed socialists have taken control of Burlington. Weinberger’s strategy for a forced vote on Murad will only work if Burlington’s apathetic voters actually vote March 1st to return some semblance of balance and clarity to the City Council. Weinberger also needs to insure a fair election on the 1st, the progs have managed quite a few tricks for vote counting since 1981.

  4. Sad to say, but I just don’t care about Burlington anymore. They get what they deserve. They vote these Marxist Bernie-bros into office and then complain when crime runs rampant. I feel sorry for the few remaining upright and productive members of society that still live there, but get out while you can. My family and I have stopped going to Burlington and have taken our business elsewhere. I’m no Carnac the Magician, and I’m not holding the last envelope in my hand, but my guess is that this coming spring and summer we’re going to see all these progressive losers out in full force trashing the city and trying to make Burlington the New England version of Portland or Seattle while our emasculated depleted police force is reduced to watching it happen.

    • The goal of the so-called “Progressive” Left is eliminate locally-controlled Police in favor of a federal Police force more willing to do their political bidding.

  5. Cities from all around the country have come to realize the folly and terrible consequences of “defund the police” and associated anti-police actions and elected to move forward in the interest of public safety……Sadly, the Burlington City Council hasn’t learned its lesson

  6. No tanning salon, face piercings, purple hair, wooden earlobe rings or neck tattoos were going to help Acting Chief Murad when up against this obtuse and superficial City Council. Their unhealthy obsession with race is far too pathological and ingrained. The Mayor is right to note that this problem can be corrected in the next City Council Election, but given that Burlington’s politics is increasingly being determined by renters, students and deadbeats, the malaise is not likely to improve. Picking a Chief based on melanin content is the height of shallow politics and cultural depravity. This City Council may someday have to face the fact that there may actually be more observable offenses being committed by perps who subsequently turn out to be persons of color and that the interactions are not actually based on initial bias. The social justice warriors on the Council are apparently ok with letting the crime wave continue in the name of their sick, twisted narrative.

  7. The socialists on the Burlington City Council are a disgrace. Thank you Kurt Wright for supporting Jon Murad for police chief!!!

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