Mayor comes out against police reform measures ahead of Town Meeting Day, despite support for the initiative from many


Max Abrahams

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger opposes the Community Control Board, which was proposed as a way to implement community oversight of the Burlington Police Department.

Editor’s note: This story was updated March 7 at 12:22 p.m. to contextualize the history behind getting the Community Control Board on the ballot and to give more equal voice to proponents and opponents. 

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger opposes the measure to create a Community Control Board for police oversight that will appear on Town Meeting Day ballots, according to a Feb. 27 public safety newsletter from the mayor.

“I vetoed a proposal very similar to the current Control Board in late 2020,” Weinberger stated in the newsletter. “I still don’t think this is the right way to achieve police accountability.”

The Community Control Board came about as a ballot measure by way of community organizers who began this work in 2020 during the Black Lives Matter protests in Battery Park, said sophomore Aspen Overy, community organizer and member of UVM Union of Students.

Overy and other local community organizers actively collected more than 2,000 signatures in order to get this measure on the ballot, they said. 

The Community Control Board was also supported by progressive members of City Council as part of their community safety platform, which was released in response to Weinberger’s public safety plan in January 2023, according to a Jan. 27 Vermont Cynic article

Although progressive city councilors promoted the proposed Community Control Board in response to the Mayor’s public safety plan, some believe the public safety plan itself was a response to the birth of the idea for a Community Control Board.

“We have actually somewhat guessed that part of Miro’s public safety plan was in response to the Community Control Board gaining traction,” Overy said. “It’s been pushed directly by […] those 2020 racial justice protests. It’s the same and very similar people, it’s the same fight.”

Progressives who support the Community Control Board see it as a way to institute police oversight and restore community trust in the police, according to the Cynic article. 

“The police department works for the people of Burlington and the people of Burlington should be the ones to oversee the department,” said Joe Magee, a progressive city councilor, in the Cynic article. 

Magee sees the control board decreasing the number of use of force incidents by providing structure to hold police accountable, he said.

“We continue to see uses of force here in the city, and there needs to be a more transparent way of getting accountability for that,” Magee said. 

Ward 8 city council candidates Progressive Rhone Allison, a junior, and Democrat Hannah King ‘22 both said they support the creation of a control board, according to a Feb. 28 Cynic article.

Allison said they believe the current method of appointment to the board is too indirect, advocating instead for a direct election of the board members, according to the Cynic article. 

Weinberger cites a lack of accountability protections and what he characterizes as a misuse of taxpayer dollars for his stance against Question 7—the ballot item concerning the control board—according to his newsletter. 

“The control board will undermine our efforts to rebuild the police department because it lacks a commitment to procedural justice that officers need to know they will be treated fairly,” Weinberger stated in the newsletter.

Weinberger and more than a dozen community members, including the presidents of UVM Medical Center and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, gathered at City Hall Feb. 2 to speak out against the control board, according to a Feb. 2 WCAX article

Other community members came out in support of the control board at a Feb. 22 event that included Ben and Jerry’s founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, according to a Feb. 24 Burlington Free Press article. Other supporters of the ballot measure include the ACLU of Vermont, the Peace & Justice Center, Migrant Justice and more, according to the People for Police Accountability website

In addition to announcing his stance on Question 7, Weinberger’s public safety newsletter also announced the hiring of 16 new members of the Burlington Police Department, including six recruits going to the Vermont Police Academy and nine civilian members, which includes Community Service Officers and Community Support Liaisons. 

Rebuilding the sworn ranks of the Burlington Police Department was named a high priority in the mayor’s recent public safety plan and is central to the BPD’s rebuilding plan, which aims to grow the department’s numbers by 21 officers by July 1, 2025.