On September 9, 2020

Gov. Scott signs executive order on public safety reform

Executive action advances efforts in seven key areas of law enforcement modernization, sets legislative priorities for 2021

Governor Phil Scott has signed an executive order to accelerate a series of reforms and modernizations of public safety services in Vermont, and to initiate a comprehensive, ongoing discussion with state residents—especially historically marginalized communities—about how law enforcement can best serve communities’ needs.

The Governor’s Public Safety Reform Initiative immediately implements seven key short-term priorities, such as engaging Vermonters in robust participation in the modernization process; ensuring uniform, statewide policies regarding body-worn cameras and uses of force; improving and standardizing data collection by law enforcement agencies; and bolstering practices for hiring, training and promoting law enforcement officers.

The executive order also advances planning action on three legislative proposals for 2021, including a universal reporting portal for improper conduct allegations; a statutory mandate regarding use of force investigations and reviews; and the creation of models for community oversight.

“Vermont has been working for some time to advance these goals, at the state and local level, across party lines and in all branches of government. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis this spring, and tragedies that have followed, make it clear we need even more urgent action,” Governor Scott said. “It’s not enough just to say that Black lives matter. With this executive action, we are taking concrete steps to advance necessary reforms and modernization efforts and help ensure equity and justice for all. And this work will continue because we know there is more to do.”

Governor Scott’s order builds on a discussion that began in January when the Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) submitted an outline for modernizing policing in Vermont, and continued in June when DPS drafted a comprehensive 10-point strategy to accelerate the process, as well as legislation enacted in July.

Full details of these initiatives are available in the executive order, which can be found  at governor.vermont.gov/content/executive-order-no-03-20.

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