We have an opportunity and a responsibility to advance racial justice, reimagine the role of police in our communities, and create a better state for all Vermonters.
Despite decades of efforts to curb police violence and address systemic racism, it is clear how much remains the same. Data consistently shows Vermont law enforcement stops, searches, and arrests Black and Brown people at disproportionate rates, and the number of Vermonters killed by police has increased over the last several decades, with 2019 being the deadliest to date.
The ACLU and a diverse group of Vermont-based organizations have released this ten-part action plan for police reform in Vermont. We are calling on lawmakers to take bold action to limit the unchecked power of police and make much-needed investments in Vermont communities. And we are asking our supporters to make their voices heard.
Vermont Legislature Seeking Community Input Throughout August
We’re releasing this plan as the Vermont legislature prepares to host a series of three “virtual meetings” to obtain community input on police reform:
- August 6 at 1:00 p.m.
- August 12 at 6:00 p.m.
- August 16 at 4:00 p.m.
You can sign up here to give two minutes of testimony in support of police reform.
You can also share your views and experiences by filling out this survey.
Across the country, people have taken to the streets, packed city council meetings, and called on legislators, demanding a reimagination of public safety and well-being that prioritizes communities over policing. Now is the time for us to demand real change, at the local, state, and federal levels.
Ten-Part Plan for Police Reform
- End qualified immunity. Vermont law shields officials who abuse their power from meaningful accountability. State lawmakers need to disincentivize police misconduct.
- Remove police from schools. The presence of “school resource officers” (SROs) disproportionately harms students of color, students with disabilities, and low-income students. We must end the use of police in schools and invest in educational support services.
- Limit police involvement in low-level offenses. We must prevent unnecessary police interactions which disproportionately impact people of color. That includes limiting police involvement in mental health crises, authority to conduct “consent”-based searches, and discretion to cite or arrest for petty offenses like “disorderly conduct.”
- Ban police use of military-grade equipment and techniques. Police militarization is unnecessary and dangerous. Giving police military equipment encourages the use of paramilitary tactics with civilians, including no-knock raids, as well as abusive “crowd control techniques,” such as use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, tear gas, and sound canons.
- Prohibit use of new and invasive surveillance technologies, including new surveillance technologies, advanced or autonomous weaponry, facial recognition software, and predictive policing technologies.
- Require appointment of independent counsel outside of State’s Attorneys and the Attorney General’s office to review and prosecute police misconduct.
- Increase transparency so that police misconduct cannot be concealed. That includes ending confidentiality for officer disciplinary records and other limits on public access to information.
- Require robust, systemwide data collection and analysis from police, prosecutors, courts, parole board, and Department of Corrections to detect and eradicate systemic racism.
- Establish community control and authority over law enforcement, including over police priorities, transparency, and discipline, and end collective bargaining agreement provisions that limit oversight and accountability.
- INVEST in communities, not policing. It is time to demand that our laws and our investments match our values as Vermonters, and to affirm that Black Lives Matter. Local and state policymakers must prioritize people and communities, not policing and prisons.
Police Reform Agenda Organizational Endorsements
ACLU of Vermont
Justice for All
Pride Center of Vermont
Rights and Democracy
Vermont Branches of the NAACP
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
Vermont Center for Independent Living
Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform
Vermont Human Rights Commission
Vermont Legal Aid
Vermont Public Interest Research Group
Women's Justice and Freedom Initiative