Montpelier, Vt.—The ACLU of Vermont celebrates the enactment of S.119, an act relating to a statewide standard and policy for law enforcement use of force. Governor Scott allowed the bill to become law on Wednesday, establishing the nation’s best statewide policy on police use of force. Under this new law, use of force by law enforcement will be restricted to instances when it is reasonable, necessary, and proportional given the totality of the circumstances.
ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall: “This historic legislation gives Vermont the best statewide police use of force standard in the nation and is a critical step towards reimaging the role of police in our communities. We thank the governor and the legislature for their leadership, and for listening to Vermonters who are saying loud and clear that transformational change is badly needed.
Police brutality and impunity is a growing concern in Vermont and nationwide, and it is all too clear that we can no longer allow the police to police themselves. S.119 is a historic milestone that will prioritize de-escalation whenever possible and help hold law enforcement accountable when they use excessive force.
Although this is a win for all Vermonters, we know that people of color and people with mental health conditions are disproportionately impacted by policing. Our continuing work to root out systemic racism in all its forms is far from over, but the enactment of S.119 is an important step to making Vermont a place that is more just and equitable for everyone who calls this state home.”
In addition to S.119, four other bills related to police accountability, racial justice, and criminal law reform were either signed or allowed to become law on Wednesday. Taken collectively, these four additional bills— S.24, S.54, S.124, and S.234—set the nation’s strongest limits on police use of facial recognition software, establish a system to tax and regulate cannabis, and make further progress in ending the racist war on drugs and addressing systemic racism in Vermont’s criminal legal system.