Burlington’s mayor announces his appointment for city police chief
The mayor of Burlington, Vermont has named a new police chief, overruling the city council’s move in December to hire a professional search firm.
In December, the city council approved spending $75,000 to hire an executive search firm after a city search committee failed to nominate a police chief. They rejected other provisions sought by Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger including increasing the chief’s salary and disciplinary powers. The mayor told the council he would move forward with an appointment from the latest pool of applicants early in 2022.
Thursday afternoon he followed through, appointing Acting Police Chief Jon Murad to the position.
“At this moment, at the beginning of 2022, the job is even bigger than in normal times. The next chief will need to turn around two years of troubling local crime trends. The next chief must meet the current moment and work to eliminate racial bias and racial disparities from policing and law enforcement. And the next chief must stabilize and then rebuild a department that has been decimated by the city council’s flawed and then recently overturned decision to eliminate 30% of our officers,” Weinberger said. "I know that Chief Murad is up to this enormous challenge because he has already demonstrated that he can do it.”
Chief Murad said he is honored by the mayor’s confidence.
“I’ve been privileged to lead the BPD (Burlington Police Department) for the past 20 months in times of extreme challenge for the men and women inside and for the community that expects and deserves so much from us," Murad said. "I know that I have more to give.”
Murad’s confirmation at the next city council meeting on Monday is not certain. In his role as acting chief he has often been at loggerheads with the Progressive-controlled council over cuts in department staffing and funding. Mayor Weinberger said he is aware that due to past difficult debates there are concerns about his choice.
“I hope the council will consider that just a few months ago we all agreed that the department was in trouble and that public safety depended on stabilizing the department. That work of stabilization is not done. I believe the most important thing they can do to support the department and turn this situation around is to approve Chief Murad,” the mayor said. “He’s the right leader for the challenges we face right now. He’s the right leader to lead that stabilization effort and rebuilding effort.”
Murad said at no point in the process did he feel that his appointment was a given due to his service as acting chief since June 2020.
“I’ve been in a 20-month job interview and I have done my best at every stage of that to perform. Not because it was a job interview or I saw it that way but because I want to serve this city. I want to serve the people in it. I want to lead the men and women who do the real work of making public safety happen. And I want to make sure that we are treating every single member of this community equally and fairly,” Murad added. “But insofar as this process is concerned this was a fair process from my perspective as a participant in it. There’s nothing that I would have done differently had it been a process for another city.”
Audio is courtesy of Town Meeting Television.