Every year the Queen City Police Foundation and the Rotary Club of Burlington hold a luncheon to recognize and honor police officers and citizens of Burlington. Vermont Senior Senator Patrick Leahy was among the keynote speakers at this week’s event.
The annual award luncheon brought a number of dignitaries to the Hilton in Burlington including the U.S. Attorney for Vermont, the state Attorney General, city councilors and the business community. Law enforcement officers were honored for distinguished service or life-saving attempts over the past year.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat who began his career as Chittenden County State’s Attorney in Burlington, was introduced as an unambiguous and distinguished supporter of Vermont law enforcement. “I look at how different it is today from the days when I was State’s Attorney. What you have to do. Probably you brought somebody back from near fatal overdose or you’ve intervened in a mental health crisis and perhaps saved a life by doing it. Or you respond to abhorrent hate speech that inflicts harm on the entire community. We like to think that Burlington and this area is a tolerant tolerant community as is Vermont. But we know that you Chief and everybody around here has to be called upon. And I’m going to keep on working to help you.”
As Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy sponsored a bipartisan bill that was signed into law that included nearly $4 billion to enhance opioid and mental health response. “You will be getting some of that Chief just as we get funding for the Cops Hiring Program. And then in 1997 I put together a bulletproof vest program, bipartisan, the Leahy-Campbell Law. We’ve now given out 1.3 million vests nationwide and 5,000 of them have been right here in Vermont. That’s to help protect you. But I couldn’t ever do enough to thank you for protecting us.”
A number of awards were presented including to two teams that responded to violent incidents in the city. Chief Brandon Del Pozo described one of the team’s response to a hatchet assault on Hyde Street. “I’ve been in policing for 23 years and I can say without a doubt that it was one of the most horrific and difficult scenes ever to unfold in in Burlington and in policing in general. Just the actions they took when confronting an armed man who’d taken a life and had almost taken a second life and who was still menacing and taking that person into custody at great risk to themselves was unparalleled. And then just keeping it running all smoothly and calmly and getting the resources to the right place as far as dispatch goes was unparalleled as well. So these are the men and women that in the time of crisis do really what it takes to keep your community safe at great risk to themselves and unflinchingly and with excellence.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger: “You work at the fault lines of a community and of society in meeting its most serious challenges. And for that I want to express my deepest gratitude on behalf of myself and all the people of the city of Burlington.”