Monday’s council meeting covered two topics:
1. Presentation from BPD Chief Del Pozo, Q&A
2. Approval/Disapproval of the CSWD Budget
1. Del Pozo presented an overview of current BPD policies and initiatives, with a focus on use of force. He talked about policies, training, and some examples of how incidents were handled. He took us through statistics on use of force over the past few years.
We spent two hours questioning Del Pozo. For those of you who haven’t seen the bodycam footage that was released, please watch it so you understand the context of the situation. It’s quite disturbing, and in my opinion, is completely unacceptable. In my questioning of Del Pozo I tried to focus on accountability. Why was the punishment for this violation of the use of force policy so minimal? Who determines the punishment and what is that based on? Why wasn’t the body camera footage released sooner — why did we only finally receive it through the media?
Through my questions and Del Pozo’s answers I think it was very clear that we do not have a strong or transparent accountability system in place for when police officers violate use of force policy. We need a stronger system to ensure that there is greater accountability for misconduct.
Part of that accountability includes policy that requires body camera footage to be released to the public in incidents where force is used, unless there is an ongoing investigation. This is going to be one of the components of a resolution I’m co-sponsoring with Councilors Freeman and Tracy on Monday (our next Council meeting is this coming Monday).
I want to thank all of the individuals and organizations working tirelessly on this issue. I see you, I care about you, I’m listening to you, and I will continue to do what I can to bring your ideas forward on the Council.
2. I urged Councilors to vote no on this budget. I have spent significant time reviewing the budget and asking questions of CSWD, and I have not received assurance that this budget moves CSWD towards their mission of reducing waste. It includes greater increases on fees for recycling and compost than it does for trash. At a time when the volume of waste we are producing in Chittenden County is rising, we cannot afford to be shifting financial incentives away from recycling/composting and towards producing trash. Furthermore, with composting becoming mandatory in 2020, it is very dangerous from an economic justice perspective to be raising fees on composting in 2019. We need to focus on how we can mitigate the impact that mandatory composting will have on low income people. Raising fees on composting now makes that task even harder.
In the end, Councilors Freeman and Tracy joined me and voting no, and the rest of the Council voted to pass the budget. I’m very disappointed, and I’m concerned about where we are heading on issues of waste management and environmental sustainability.