Vermont lawmaker: It’s time to disarm the police


She’s from the land of Bernie Sanders.  ‘nuf said.

A city councilor in Burlington, Vermont is pushing to disarm police officers in the Queen City.

“How much is the lethal force — is it really causing at the end of the day, more harm than benefit?” said Perri Freeman, a self-proclaimed progressive representing the city.

She floated the idea at a recent council meeting.  Her suggestion was that communities should be thinking about new ways of policing in the United States.

According to Freeman, she spent lots of time in Iceland and police are unarmed there.

Where is the “eyeroll” emoji when you need one?

She tries to make the argument that there are only a few times that police need weapons.

You know, like the recent “mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso and such”.

She also added that “the day in and day out of police work is not engaging with that”, and so they apparently don’t need guns.

She argues it’s time to change the culture of policing.  She argues that current policing a reaction to “systemic problems like inequality”.

Here’s the good news.

Right now, it’s only conversations she’s having with other local politicians or police leaders – but apparently she’s trying to gauge support from the Burlington community.

According to the head of Burlington’s police officers union, such a plan “wouldn’t fit” in any American city.

“There are a lot of guns around, and we as the police try to put ourselves in the position of advantage all the time, and to show up to an armed incident unarmed? I can’t think of anything more disadvantaged than that,” said Dan Gilligan, president of the Burlington Police Officer’s Association.

Translation: go back under the rock you’ve been hiding under.

Don’t take it personally, Freeman wants cops to know.  Her goal is simply to “keep everyone safe”.

“It’s not an overnight thing. It’s a gradual program. It’s talking about how to we really shift and talk about doing things maybe differently in a way that might be better in the long run,” she said.

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Vermont lawmaker: It’s time to disarm the police

She’s not the first genius to push for unarmed police officers.

Last year in Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler pushed for unarmed police officers.  They’d be “Public Safety Support Specialists”, or PS3s, who would be non-sworn officers who do not carry guns. 

“They will be engaged in the community in non-emergency calls, so that’s things like property crimes, break-ins,” Wheeler tells WW.

The concept came from a proposal in the 2016 police union contract approved under then-Mayor Charlie Hales.  The idea was to create Community Service Officers who would respond to minor property crimes and nuisance calls, among other things.

K9 Mick
K9 Rico and handler, Officer Jeff Dorn. (Courtesy Portland Police Bureau)

So where did they find the money?  By cutting the Mounted Patrol – or cops on horseback – from the 2018-2018 city budget.

The actual deadline was set for January 1, 2019 to implement the PS3s – but it was a date that they didn’t anticipate having the PS3s hired by.

The Portland Police Bureau says it would begin processing some background checks for potential hires in January.

Vermont lawmaker: It’s time to disarm the police

But there remained a dispute about how autonomous the unarmed officers will be.

Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner, a police officer and staunch supporter of law and order, says the PS3s will not respond to calls for service without a sworn officer. That said… they might provide support by manning the front desks at precincts or waiting for tow trucks at car accidents.

It’s a much smaller and less public role than what Portland mayors have pledged.

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