The members of the (VSP) Vermont State Police and Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling unequivocally condemn the actions of police officers in Minneapolis that led to the death of George Floyd, according to a statement, Friday, May 29.
“What I have seen on video from the mishandled attempt to arrest George Floyd is beyond disturbing,” said Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police. “This kind of conduct has no place in policing. It goes against everything we are taught from our earliest days in training academies. It goes against our mission to protect and serve the public. It goes against our oath and our badge. It goes against human decency.”
Vermont has about 70 police departments and roughly 1,200 police officers.
In Vermont, the VSP is committed to fair and impartial policing and has implemented a comprehensive program to ensure equitable, just policing practices at all levels of the agency. These efforts include building relationships of trust with communities of color and other minority communities, diversifying its workforce and improving our cultural awareness as the state of Vermont continues to grow more diverse.
The Vermont State Police also trains to de-escalate all potential confrontations, use the least amount of force required when absolutely necessary, and render aid quickly to anyone in medical distress.
Additionally, state police leadership is explicitly clear that no law enforcement officer should ever stand idly by in the face of violence, misconduct or other inappropriate actions from their peers.
Gov. Phil Scott said “I join the Vermont State Police in their condemnation of the officers’ actions, and I appreciate that they’ve called attention to it, as well as their commitment to serving and protecting all Vermonters. I hope to see justice served and that we can move toward healing as a nation.”
Rutland police also condemned murder of George Floyd at hands of Minneapolis Police.
Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said, “We share the outrage we have seen locally and across the nation following this incredibly disturbing incident where Mr. Floyd lost his life as a result of criminal acts perpetrated by police.
“Every community through this country deserves to know their police department exists to serve and protect. The phenomenon that marginalized communities fear for their safety when dealing with police is real. The Rutland City Police Department recognizes our responsibility in creating a culture and atmosphere within which events like those we’ve seen nationally do not happen here. We achieve this through the application of the principles of procedural justice in our interactions with those we serve. Through our community policing efforts, we look to develop relationships to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust that will help us better serve our community,” Kilcullen stated.
Members of the Vermont State Police Fair and Impartial Policing Committee added their voices to the call for fairness and equity.
“The Vermont State Police is breaking the Blue Wall of Silence by condemning the actions of Minneapolis police officers in the murder of George Floyd,” said Tabitha Pohl-Moore, president of the Rutland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a member of the Vermont State Police Fair and Impartial Policing Committee. “I appreciate this sort of leadership and integrity and hope that other departments around Vermont and the larger U.S. follow suit, not just in words but in actions.
“We stand with the people of Minneapolis and in solidarity with Minneapolis NAACP Branch President Leslie Redmond in their fight for justice,” she added. “More departments must not only condemn clearly egregious acts of unjust and partial policing, but must simultaneously commit to proactive measures that also extract nuanced acts of bias and violence from the policies, practices, procedure, and culture of policing.
“Continued transparency about shortcomings and efforts to correct them are two ways that the Vermont State Police stands out in that regard,” Moore continued. “When departments both condemn atrocities and reflect on how their own ranks could be vulnerable to such behavior, they decrease the likelihood of committing said atrocities and increase community confidence in their ability to carry out fair and impartial policing practices.”
The Vermont State Police are in the process of reviewing all policies and training procedures regarding use of force to ensure they are in line with best practices and account for the safety and well-being of the public and of the police.
“The public has every right to expect that the police will treat them with fairness, with respect, with compassion,” said Capt. Garry Scott, the Vermont State Police’s director of Fair and Impartial Policing and Community Affairs. “We have worked for years to forge relationships of trust with all communities we serve. We do this through openness and robust examinations of our data and our practices; by developing and implementing strong training programs to address bias in policing; and by ensuring continual, ongoing, honest communications. The public needs to know we stand with them.”