Dallas Ambush on Police Prompts Policy Changes in Burlington, Vt. | NECN
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Dallas Ambush on Police Prompts Policy Changes in Burlington, Vt.

Police Department will now require officers to have a partner with them when patrolling the city

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Burlington, Vermont Police Department now will require all officers to have a partner with them when patrolling the city or responding to calls. (Published Friday, July 8, 2016)

    Even on the most routine calls or patrols, police officers in Burlington, Vermont will now always have a partner with them; no more flying solo.

    "I think, in Burlington, it's unprecedented, but that's because this situation is unprecedented as well," Chief Brandon del Pozo of the Burlington Police Department said.

    Del Pozo enacted the new policy Friday morning after the sniper-style murders of five police officers in Dallas. Seven other officers were injured, as well as two civilians.

    Del Pozo said he has no reason to believe any of his personnel are in danger, but explained the seeming randomness of the Texas ambush and the tone in the country around policing right now left him unwilling to take chances.

    "Until the window for copycat attacks or attacks inspired by this diminishes--until the rhetoric cools down--I don't want officers out there by themselves," del Pozo told necn. "They can't have eyes in the back of their heads."

    The police chief said Burlington is already planning to send representatives to Dallas for the officers' funerals, once those arrangements are set.

    First, however, there are renewed calls to build bridges here at home.

    "We are fighting for lives here," said Mary Brown-Guillory of the Champlain Valley area chapter of the NAACP, who said more needs to be done in the Burlington area to ensure fair and equal treatment by police when interacting with people of all races.

    The NAACP is planning a vigil and prayer service from 7-10 p.m. Saturday night at the top of Church Street in Burlington. According to the group's Facebook page, the event was designed as a protest of the recent killings of two black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.

    "We live in a very peaceful community," Brown-Guillory said of Burlington in an interview with WPTZ-TV. "But we have to keep the lines of communication open. We have to be more respectful of other people's cultures and differences."

    Dallas Police Chief David Brown said the Texas shooter told authorities that he was upset about the recent shootings of black men by police and wanted to kill whites, "especially white officers."

    Brown-Guillory said the event she will be a part of Saturday night in Burlington should be prayerful and peaceful. She said she hopes representatives of the Burlington Police Department will attend to speak with participants.

    Across the city Friday, flags flew at half-staff. A Burlington Police Department employee hand-stitched mourning bands so all officers on duty could wear one on their badge.

    The department, even while deeply saddened by the killings of the Texas officers, did get a bit of a boost Friday. Citizens moved by the tragedy sent the station flowers and donations for coffee, Cpl. Bonnie Beck told necn.

    "It says there are a lot more good people than there are bad eggs in this community," Beck said of the small gifts. "And they all come through when a bad thing happens like this."

    The doubling-up policy is set to remain in place for the foreseeable future, Chief del Pozo said.

    In a joint statement from the Vermont State Police and Vermont Department of Public Safety, Col. Matthew Birmingham and Commissioner Keith Flynn expressed their condolences to the Dallas Police Department, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department, and the entire Dallas community.

    "The Vermont State Police will continue to remain vigilant and assess any threat that would jeopardize the safety of our troopers or the communities we serve," the statement read. "Our members are among the most highly trained and dedicated law enforcement officers in the nation and will continue to serve all Vermonters with the highest standards of professionalism and respect."

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