BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Burlington’s mayor selected the acting police chief to permanently lead the department in Vermont’s largest city Thursday, but progressive City Council members are opposed to the choice.
Miro Weinberger’s decision to promote Jon Murad must still be approved by the City Council. Six of the 12 members say they don’t want Murad, and that the mayor doesn’t have enough votes to confirm, the progressives said.
After the search was postponed amid the pandemic and again because too few candidates applied, Weinberger, a Democrat, asked the City Council to hire a search firm, increase the chief’s pay and give the chief disciplinary power. Last month, the City Council voted to start a new search with a firm but did not satisfy all of the mayor’s requests.
The previous interim chief, Jennifer Morrison, resigned last year after just eight months on the job, citing her husband’s health issues and actions of the City Council. At the time, she called the council’s decision to reduce the police force by 30% “unconscionable.”
The council members who oppose Murad’s appointment said in a statement Thursday that the city needs a chief “who demonstrates a commitment to transforming public safety. Right now, Jon Murad is not that candidate.”
In his announcement, the mayor said the next police chief “will need to turn around troubling local crime trends, work to eliminate racial bias and racial disparities from policing and law enforcement, and stabilize and rebuild our department.”
Murad, born in Burlington and raised in Underhill, has served as acting chief since the summer of 2020 and before that as a deputy starting in October 2018, according to the mayor’s office. Before joining the Burlington Police Department, he worked for the New York City Police Department as an officer, detective, sergeant, and assistant commissioner, the mayor’s office said. He earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard and later earned a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School.
“I know I have more to give to this wonderful city, and strive to make it safe and fair, everywhere for everyone,” Murad said in a statement.
Murad said Tuesday that several more officers plan to leave the force next week, bringing the number of active officers down to 60 after their departure, myNBC5 reported. The City Council last fall voted to increase the size of the department to 79 officers after putting a cap on the number of officers the previous year.
Former Chief Brandon del Pozo resigned in December 2019 after the disclosure that he used an anonymous social media account to heckle a resident who criticized him and the police department.
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