Police in Burlington, Vermont were subject to a new order that requires them to intervene if they see another officer engaging in excessive use of force.
Burlington department issues new guidelines for all officers to intervene and report excessive uses of force
The new regulations were partially a response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed after being deprived of air by an officer during a routine arrest for a non-violent crime. Protests occurred in Burlington, and demonstrators mentioned the fact that two excessive use of force cases were pending against the city due to police misconduct.
Officers in the city of Burlington will now be required to intervene if they see another officer at the scene using an excessive amount of force during an arrest or interaction. A special committee had been created the prior year to look into and review various local policing practices. This committee noted that a duty to intervene to save suspects was not explicitly placed anywhere in the department’s training regarding the proper use of force. Some of these reforms were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and other problems.
The orders will be effective immediately and left in place until the department makes formal changes to a new use of force policy, which will be published and implemented at a later time. Some of the crucial points of this new policy include a blanket order for all personnel to intervene when they see improper use of force, misconduct, and other inappropriate forms of behavior among co-workers, and de-escalation techniques that are meant to keep interactions from becoming violent. Instructions were also given about how to report violations and what level of force is now considered appropriate in various interactions.
The police chief of Burlington said that she hopes incidents of misconduct will be eliminated from the community with these new proactive measures, and the department will take an active role in making changes. During the same meeting, the city council was asked about another incident where a man brought a lawsuit after being pushed by an officer. The victim then hit his head and suffered from injuries. The council claims that the incident was “behind us,” which likely means that the case had been settled.
Suing the local police
While police are allowed to use a minimal amount of force to detain someone and make an arrest after they have committed a crime, they cannot hurt someone who is already in custody. They are generally supposed to reserve the use of force for violent crimes where there is an immediate threat of harm.
Talk with an attorney in Vermont
There are lawyers throughout the state who can assist after an incident of police brutality. To get started with the process of getting help and bringing a civil lawsuit, use the directory on USAttorneys.com.