Scott exec order gives state new ‘fair and impartial policing’ powers

By Guy Page

A “fair and impartial policing” executive order issued by Gov. Phil Scott gives the Vermont Department of Public Safety sweeping new powers in the hiring, training and oversight of local and state police agencies.

“Just two months ago, this country watched the tragic death of George Floyd, and while Vermont has been committed to fair and impartial policing for some time, we must acknowledge work remains to be done,” the Aug. 20 order states.

The order incorporates Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner Michael Schirling’s Jan. 14 “outline for modernizing policing and public safety,” recommending centralization of all State of Vermont law enforcement agencies (but not municipal police) under DPS. The order also builds on the administration’s June 10-point plan for fair and impartial policing. Neither plans have been enacted by the 2020 Legislature.

Guy Page

At his Tuesday, Sept. 8 press conference, Scott said this executive order does not use or need any special state of emergency powers. “Racism is real” and Vermonters must work together to eliminate it, he said. His order requires:

By Oct. 1, the State of Vermont must develop and begin to implement new hiring and promotion systems of police and police executives in  “all law enforcement agencies statewide.” Developed by DPS Commissioner Michael Schirling and “community representatives and other interested parties,” these systems will help law enforcement agencies “retain and promote officers who reflect the values and diversity of the communities they serve.”

By Dec. 1, Schirling shall “in consultation with the Commissioner of Human Resources and the Executive Director of Racial Equity, develop additional initiatives to reach out to a more diverse hiring pool.”

Schirling prioritize adoption of a statewide police dispatch and data computer system, standardized and mandatory for all agencies, to make use of force, traffic stops, arrests, mental health and other data “more swiftly and fully available to communities.”

Schirling, with Executive Director of Racial Equity Xusanna Davis and other stakeholders, develop a statewide model policy on body worn cameras for all law enforcement agencies and officers for use statewide.

Schirling, with Executive Director of Racial Equity Xusanna Davis and other stakeholders, will develop a statewide model policy on police use of force, including when and how military equipment may be used. This policy would ban “invasive surveillance technologies, advanced autonomous weaponry, facial recognition software or predictive policing technologies….failure to adopt the statewide model use of force policy shall result in limitations on state funding and access to training for the agency.”

By Dec. 1, report to the governor a plan to “develop and use updated, statewide training, schedules and methods.”

By Oct. 1, Schirling, Davis and others “shall recommend to the Governor a statewide model policy for investigating allegations of improper conduct. This process should consider different models used outside of Vermont, including those involving civilian investigators or investigators from other agencies.

In addition to these executive acts, the order outlines a 2021 legislative platform for more detailed reform on police hiring, training, oversight, and review of misconduct and use of force allegations. While not ordering removal of police from schools or stripping cops of their current legal immunity from lawsuits, the executive order does call for further discussion of these two hot-button issues by local governments and the Legislature.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of state of Vermont

6 thoughts on “Scott exec order gives state new ‘fair and impartial policing’ powers

  1. It appears that the focus on racism is all about the police. Well how about looking at where real systemic racism may be occurring.

    Consider the ability to obtain a loan. Is the bank applying the same criteria in making a decision? What about a landlord offering to rent or a real estate agent showing property? Consider the hiring practices of a company or business. Is there any bias?

    It’s easy to focus on the police and their actions without consideration of the actions and especially the behavior of the person they are interacting with. It’s much harder to verify the other instances of racial discrimination and implement change.

  2. Yeah, bureaucrats will be telling the law enforcement how to run there business,
    now that should be something, bureaucrat marching orders.

    Law enforcement, means they enforce the laws on the books, I still don’t believe
    Vermonts cops are ” Racist ” and in Burlington, they have the most diverse agency
    I’ve seen in years, all I see is there hands being tied by legislators and they don’t
    have a clue about police work……… nada, nothing !!

    So no matter what your ” Skin Color ” is, if you break the law, well you get what you
    deserve arrested…… that dosen’t make a cop a racist, but it does make you out to
    be an Idiot or a criminal .

    Support your local police, you just may need them one day !!

  3. We The People elect our County Sheriff. Neither the Governor, nor his multitude of lackeys, gets to tell our Sheriff how to conduct business.

    • bravo.. look into how legislature gave all police including municable police sheriff powers and out of jurisdiction power including out of state powers.
      i fear a consolidated police force aka standing army with all reaching powers .. they say all this stuff like they are doing us favors but in the end we always lose

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