Scott tells reporters he stands with the police, and state has new suicide crisis hotline

Burlington Police Department

MOST VERMONTERS WANT POLICE: The governor reminded reporters that, in his opinion, most Vermonters do understand the need for well-staffed police departments.

In addressing a series of questions about rising crime in Vermont during his weekly press conference, Gov. Phil Scott made clear that he stands with police and views the “defund the police” movement as part of the problem.

The press conference, which was largely dedicated to Vermont’s mental health resources for those in need of help, veered into the issue of law enforcement and rising crime.

“In the last couple of years we talked a lot about defunding the police, focusing on the worst actors within that profession, and I think it’s no wonder that we are in the situation we are in right now,” Scott said.

The state has seen an uptick in crime this year, and especially in Burlington, which reduced its police officers by about 30% after a post-George Floyd effort by the City Council’s progressive members to defund the force and redirect funding to social workers.

Scott suggested that illicit drug activity is also responsible for driving up criminal activity.

“Some of it is in a mental health crisis, but I would say the majority is in illicit drug activity,” the governor said. “That’s where we’re seeing most of the problems, and that’s what we’re seeing through Vermont and throughout the nation. It’s something that we’re focused on and we’re doing the best we can.”

Scott added that law enforcement has a tough job because fighting drug-related crime requires a broader investigation into finding drug traffickers.

“Building these cases isn’t something that happens overnight — it takes a long period of time to gather all the information to make sure that we are getting to the root of the problem,” he said. “It’s not the selling or the buying of drugs on the street that is the issue; it’s how the system is working, where is it coming from, and how do we cut off that source.”

Many of the governor’s updates Tuesday were related to promoting the state’s mental health resources.

“Like many other states, we are seeing more Vermonters in crisis — deaths by suicide and other heartbreaking outcomes. My team, alongside community partners, providers and more, are working to reverse these trends,” Scott said.

He said Vermont is tracking mental health data and directing financial resources to help centers. But he suggested that some Vermonters still need to know what resources are available.

“At the same time, we know there are many Vermonters who may not rise to this level but are feeling a lot of despair, distress and hopelessness, but may not feel their issues are severe enough to get help,” he said.

On July 16, Vermont will launch a new 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to aid folks who are in crisis and need to talk to someone quickly on the phone. Callers will be immediately connected to counselors who are trained to provide support for individuals experiencing everything from emotional distress to a mental health crisis.

While the counselors are trained to treat and address suicidality, the hotline is not only for those individuals in crisis.

Alison Krompf, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Mental Health said, “The lines are staffed by human beings who want to help. The number becomes active on Saturday.”

Asked about workforce challenges regarding the new crisis hotline, Scott noted that the Vermont public sector is seeing high levels of job openings without applicants.

“We have about 800 openings out of a workforce of about 8,000,” he said. “… We’re stretched thin but we’re doing whatever we can to provide the services needed.”

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

Images courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Kaufman and Burlington Police Department

5 thoughts on “Scott tells reporters he stands with the police, and state has new suicide crisis hotline

  1. I guess I just do not understand people. The state allows dr. assisted suicide and yet they send the cops in if a person is a danger to them selves only endangering the cop. What is wrong with this picture?

  2. Governor Scott has in many ways been the calm voice of reason and moderation in a time of impassioned extremes. His consistent support for law enforcement as well as his concern for the well being of all Vermonters has led to his ongoing popularity despite repeated attacks from Democrats and Progressives.

  3. illicit drug activity………gosh wonder where that comes from/??
    the whole thing sounds like a campaign speech to me
    Phil…….you lost me and hope many others due to your “party line” covid response and SO MUCH MORE…….you lost your kahuna, nerve, common sense to political pressure…….

  4. Dano,

    You hit the nail on the head.
    It is time to stop choosing the lesser of two evils.

    We are being destroyed by RINOS in our party.

    Scott voted for Biden and this destruction including defunding the police.

    We need to dump the rinos in this election starting with turncoat Scott.

    We need to get rid of these RINOS as well…

    Joe Benning, Patty McCoy, Brian Collamore, Tom Burditt and any other member of the Republican party that has sold us out.

    We are going to hear we need to re elect them but it is time to finish the beating we are taking as a result of Scott’s socialist policies and start to rebuild our party.

    There are many people who refuse to vote because our party keeps supporting the traitors.

    We are on the verge of losing Vermont…

  5. I’m resubmitting my comment from yesterday’s VDC on this same article:
    I’m sure the climate cult and moon bat teachers telling their children students that the earth will die in 10 years really helps them with their mental health. They are being taught trash in school instead of preparing them for life. Climate change, transgender acceptance and promotion, racial lies and teaching that America is bad because of its history also helps.

    And then they were told they would get sick and die if they didn’t cover their faces and were required to breathe their own exhaust for hours carrying bacteria in their masks. Then they created the anxiety of being forced to vaccinate with an unapproved experimental drug against their will. Then to top it all off, they weren’t allowed to congregate with their friends, go to sporting events or the mall. The government locked them and the rest of us down and stole two years of our lives and here they come now to save us. It was them who caused all of this.

    These people in government and the legislature do not deserve to be elected again. Ronald Reagon said, “The most terrifying words you could hear are, I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. I think this whole Covid era verifies what he said. Create a problem, scare the people then rush in to fix it. How many have been harmed in one way or another? Most of us!
    Remember in November that elections have consequences, and we are experiencing those consequences now, here and in America.

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