Department of Public Safety Seeks Community Input on Law Enforcement Modernization Plan
Montpelier, Vt. — The Vermont Department of Public Safety is seeking public and stakeholder feedback to shape and refine the state’s continuing work to modernize policing across Vermont.
This opportunity for comment and feedback is part of Governor Scott’s Public Safety Reform Initiative, created through Executive Order 03-20, which directed the commissioner of public safety to “actively engage with communities, particularly those communities that have been historically marginalized or harmed by policing, as we develop and deploy best policing practices.”
“Ensuring all voices are heard as part of this process, and giving those who have been most impacted by systemic inequity a seat at the table, is critical to the success of our work to strengthen the fairness and equity of systems of policing and justice,” said Governor Scott. “It is our hope we will receive significant public input as we move forward.”
Members of the public will be able to provide detailed comments online regarding several policies and strategies that flow from the Governor’s Executive Order and, in part, a 10-point plan presented earlier this year by law enforcement and public safety leaders from throughout Vermont.
In addition, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order and Act 165, An act relating to a statewide standard and policy for law enforcement use of force (S.119), the Department of Public Safety is seeking input for a statewide model policy for law enforcement use of force. The state is seeking proposals for model policies or guiding principles to be considered in the creation of this uniform statewide policy.
This is just the first step in creation of this policy. Members of the public will have multiple opportunities to review drafts of this policy and offer feedback as it goes through the development process, from guiding legislation to a final draft.
“In January we put forth a suite of modernization proposals. In June, together with a variety of partners from inside and outside government, we added a specific 10-point strategy to the discussion of modernizing policing and public safety in Vermont. As we move forward, we want to ensure that all Vermonters have a voice in this process,” Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said. “This plan will be successful and result in meaningful change only with the feedback, buy-in and support from our communities — especially marginalized communities and Black, Indigenous and People of Color.”
With respect to the statewide model policy for law enforcement use of force, copies of model policies, guiding documents or other relevant materials can be sent to Jennifer Morrison, special assistant to the commissioner of Public Safety, at email@example.com.
Additional details on the earlier 2020 modernization strategy and original 10-point plan are also available at dps.vermont.gov/modernization.
In addition to inviting public feedback online, the Department of Public Safety is taking numerous steps to ensure the opinions of Vermonters are reflected and incorporated into this ongoing modernization effort. Among these steps, the Department is collaborating with researchers at Norwich University to design a comprehensive public survey; engaging the State’s Racial Disparities Advisory Panel; working with the State’s director of racial equity; and connecting with the Vermont State Police Fair and Impartial Policing Committee. Additional engagement strategies will evolve as the statewide conversation continues.
“The transformation of policing must begin with the input of the communities with whom the police must work,” said Dr. Etan Nasreddin-Longo, VSP’s co-director of Fair and Impartial Policing. “This proposal for the reform of law enforcement is merely a starting point and can be completed only by the input of various communities in the state. That thoughtful input is essential to reform.”