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Safe Communities

Submitted by matt.stirnweis… on Fri, 11/04/2022 - 11:25
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10-Point Public Safety Plan

In response to crime in Vermont, in August 2022, Governor Scott issued a 10-point public safety plan, which include a focus on ensuring capacity within law enforcement and the court system to address violent crime and other public safety concerns. The plan is focused on three core goals:

  • To reinforce frontline law enforcement capacity and prioritize immediate reduction, prevention and prosecution of violent crime statewide;

 

  • To expand prosecution capacity and help the courts address a backlog of cases; and

 

  • To prioritize long-term violence prevention policies, systems, and services.

 

Modernizing Policing

  • The Scott Administration has worked with legislators and community partners to continue its work to modernize law enforcement and continue strengthening the state’s Fair and Impartial Policing policies to ensure equitable treatment and service to all. This includes:
    • In 2020, signed an Executive Order to accelerate a series of initiatives to improve public safety for all communities. The Executive Order directed action to ensure uniform statewide policies regarding body-worn cameras and uses of force; improving and standardizing data collection by law enforcement agencies; and bolstering practices for hiring, training and promoting law enforcement officers.
    • To increase transparency and accountability, the Department of Public Safety began releasing summaries of the State Police Advisory Commission (SPAC) data on misconduct allegations involving State troopers.
    • In 2020, enacted a Legislative initiative to create a statewide Use of Force policy, which the Administration has implemented.
    • In 2017, enacted a Legislative initiative to strengthen the State’s Fair and Impartial Policing policy and further address racial disparities related to law enforcement. 

 

  • NEED SUPPORT FROM THE LEGISLATURE – The Governor has repeatedly try to advance an effort that would create an Agency of Public Safety, placing all law enforcement functions under one entity to ensure consistency in policy, increase accountability and transparency, improve operational efficiency and additional benefits. The Legislature has continued to discuss this initiative with the Administration but the proposal has not yet been passed. 

 

Tools and Resources to Better Serve Communities

  • Proposed and secured funding to place mental health workers in all State Police barracks

 

  • Acted to require and provide equipment to outfit all State sworn officers and the Department of Corrections officers with body cameras

 

  • Increased funding to the Criminal Justice Training Council to support additional tools to modernize entry-testing for candidates, as well as training efforts. 

 

  • Secured a funding change to better support E-911 services.

 

  • Proposed funding and plans to improve the regional dispatch center system.

 

Maintaining the Safest Schools and Communities

Vermont is currently one of the healthiest and safest states in America. We also have some of the best and safest schools in the country. Yet Vermont is not immune to the risk of extreme violence in our schools or communities, so the state has taken the following steps to bolster safety in our schools: 

  • In 2018, the Governor issued a memo to lawmakers recommending a range of next steps to help make our communities healthier and our children safer. Following through on those recommendations, he worked with lawmakers to pass historic, commonsense gun safety reforms aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. These were the first changes made to Vermont’s gun laws since the Vermont Constitution was ratified in 1777. This included:
    • Requirements increasing the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21;
    • Universal background check requirements;
    • Extreme risk protection orders;
    • The ability for law enforcement to remove firearms from those accused of domestic violence;
    • Restrictions on the purchase of high-capacity magazines; and
    • A ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks.

 

  • In 2022, before a crucial vote, Governor Scott sent a letter to every member of the U.S. Senate urging them to pass gun safety reforms similar to what Vermont had passed. Congress did pass gun safety reforms following that Senate vote.

 

  • In 2022, enacted legislation to extend the length of time for the background check process before a default approval is rendered, strengthen the 2018 Extreme Risk Protection Order provision, and provide additional protections to victims of domestic violence. 

 

  • In FY19, proposed and secured $5 million in funding for school security grants, which will help schools improve safety and security infrastructure. Secured an additional $1.5 million in FY20 for school safety grants for schools who weren’t able to receive grants in the original round of funding.

 

  • Launched a statewide comprehensive security assessment of all Vermont schools, to help schools further strengthen their safety and security procedures, best practices and infrastructure.

 

  • Created, by Executive Order, a Violence Prevention Task Force to study and make recommendations to address root causes of community violence.

 

  • Advocated for and signed into law Act 135 of 2018, a domestic terrorism law to criminalize the behavior of those who would plot a crime designed to maximize casualties, like a school shooting – closing a gap in our laws to ensure law enforcement can prevent a tragedy like this before it happens.
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