Chief Who Wants Cops To Use Guns Less Admits Heckling Critic With Fake Account

Chief Brandon del Pozo said he was suffering from an old brain injury when he created the Twitter account.

Burlington, VT – The police chief who declared that law enforcement officers are too quick to defend themselves against knife-wielding suspects has confessed to having set up a fake Twitter account to troll one of his critics.

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo blamed his actions on a “lapse in judgement” that he experienced due to a traumatic brain injury he suffered during a bike crash in 2018, Seven Days reported.

Chief del Pozo created the @WinkleWatchers account while he was off duty on July 4 in order to mock Charles Winkleman, a Burlington resident known for criticizing city leaders, Seven Days reported.

He deleted his 10 tweets and closed the account within one hour of creating it, according to the VT Digger.

Winkleman immediately suspected that the police chief was behind the Twitter handle, which was created after Winkleman criticized a Burlington police lieutenant who wore a Thin Blue Lives Flag shirt to a civil rights monument in Alabama.

He shared his suspicions with Seven Days.

But when Seven Days asked Chief del Pozo about the social media account on July 23, he flatly denied having any “sock puppet accounts,” according to the news outlet.

“The answer’s categorically no,” he said at the time. “If I had anything to say, I would say it directly.”

Five days later, the chief showed up at Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger’s home to confess that he was the person behind the WinkleWatchers handle – a fact that both he and Weinberger later confirmed, Seven Days reported.

Chief del Pozo was placed on administrative leave during the ensuing internal investigation, which “very quickly…turned up a number of things” that were determined to be “linked to an underlying medical condition,” the mayor said.

None of the chief’s actions were illegal or “explicitly violated any City policy,” he added, according to the VTDigger.

As a result, the city handled the matter as a “verified medical situation,” Weinberger told Seven Days.

“Mental health challenges are serious issues among public safety personnel,” the mayor said. “We have a duty to be compassionate about them.”

Chief del Pozo was on medical leave for six weeks and received treatment before he returned to active duty on Sep. 15, Seven Days reported.

Seven Days again asked the police chief about the since-deleted fake Twitter account allegations after Winkleman recently resurrected his allegations on his website.

This time, Chief del Pozo admitted that he lied to the news outlet when he denied having created the WinkleWatchers account in July.

"I was disappointed in what I did,” he said. “It was a mistake, and I regret it, and I'm sorry.”

The chief said that the brain injury he suffered during a bike crash in June of 2018 was the reason why he created and used the fake account to troll Winkleman.

“It resulted in a lapse of judgment where I made a mistake that I regret,” he told Seven Days. “I responded to negativity with negativity in a way that doesn't become a chief of police.”

“I realized pretty quickly this was foolish and wrong, and I erased the tweets and deleted the account,” Chief del Pozo told the VT Digger. “Between the stress and some of the issues I was dealing with my health, it was a way to respond to negativity that wasn’t appropriate. It was wrong.”

Winkleman was shocked to learn that Chief del Pozo had confessed to having created and operated the bogus account.

“Holy s--t. Oh my god – wow,” he said, according to Seven Days. “I’m amazed they would even admit it.”

But he said he is still frustrated that the police chief hasn’t reached out to him.

“If you regretted it, why didn’t you apologize to me?” Winkleman said. “For me it comes down to: What’s going to change? What’s the accountability like?”

On Saturday, Winkleman declared that Weinberger and Chief del Pozo should resign their positions.

"I think the chief should resign. I think his deputies should resign,” he told WCAX. “I think that the mayor needs to resign too.”

“That is incredibly scary that we have a police chief and officers that will be protected by the council and mayor no matter what they do,” Winkleman complained to the VT Digger.

Chief del Pozo assured WCAX that he has no intention of bowing to Winkleman's demand that he resign his position.

Most of the Burlington City Council said they are backing Chief del Pozo because he self-reported his mistake, didn’t violate policy, and has taken action to address his mental health needs, the VT Digger reported.

“Balanced against everything else the chief has done in Burlington in a four- to five-year period, I’m not going to pile on the chief and try to destroy him over admittedly a very serious mistake,” City Councilor Kurt Wright said.

Chief del Pozo made headlines last month when he declared in a New York Times op-ed piece that law enforcement officers are too quick to defend themselves against knife-wielding suspects.

“We tell officers that a knife or a shard of glass is always a lethal threat and that they should aggressively meet it with a lethal threat in return,” the police chief wrote. “But doing so forecloses all of the better ways to communicate with a person in crisis. There are alternatives.”

He said that one of the biggest mistakes trainers have made has been to teach law enforcement officers “to lead with the gun.”

American law enforcement leaders should instead try to mimic techniques used in countries were officers are unarmed, such as Britain or Iceland, Chief del Pozo suggested.

Yelling commands at a knife-wielding attacker “is unlikely to make a difference,” especially when the officer is unarmed, he said.

But unarmed officers would instinctively back away from the attacker, which could then allow for the situation to de-escalate, the chief claimed.

“Unarmed officers will cultivate an instinct to de-escalate,” Chief del Pozo declared. “They will keep a safe distance, they will try to assess the true level of threat rather than see a weapon as a cue to rapidly escalate, and they will communicate in ways that reach people.”

“There is good psychological research on what type of communication stands the best chance of calming people in distress, regardless of what is in their hands,” he added. “And it is certainly not yelling at them or threatening their lives.”

Chief del Pozo suggested that law enforcement academies should “start by sending officers into scenarios where they have to solve problems without recourse to lethal force...before they ever handle a firearm.”

Duty weapons shouldn’t even be involved in law enforcement training until the final phase of an academy, he added.

“By the end of academy, the officers will have learned that yelling at a person as you threaten to shoot is a panicked, last-ditch effort, not a sign of competence,” Chief del Pozo opined.

“Training officers to act as if their weapons are insurance policies, rather than persuasive devices, will transform the nation’s police work,” the chief declared. “Every American will be made safer by police officers whose first instinct is to communicate with the people they encounter and whose success lies in getting the psychology of persuasion right.”

Chief del Pozo did not specifically address the impact such training would have on law enforcement officers’ safety, however.

The chief noted that he works in a “progressive” city, where at least one city councilperson has already suggested “that we should explore ways to disarm our city’s police because it would prevent them from killing people and force them to approach crises differently.”

Chief del Pozo said that such a concept is a “non-starter” in America, and acknowledged that it was unsafe for the community for police to be “rendered helpless” in the case of mass shootings or other firearms-related incidents.

“But if the police profession doesn’t want politicians broaching these ideas, we owe the public a commitment to doing everything we can to respect the sanctity of life,” he added. “We should fundamentally change the way police officers view their guns.”

Shortly after his op-ed was published, an LAPD officer was almost murdered while trying to flee from a a machete-wielding attacker. The incident was captured on video, and showed other officers shooting the suspect at the last possible moment.

A total of 42 law enforcement officers have been stabbed to death in the line of duty since 1990, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Comments (17)
No. 1-12
Micheal Sullivan
Micheal Sullivan

I respect the fact that he stopped his bad behavior quickly and self reported. I respect him taking responsibility for his actions.
While I strongly disagree with the notion of "unarmed police," the conversation about how to use words to de-escalate a situation is very important and a good one to have. Proponents are too often nieve, but the intention is good and the skills proposed ought be practiced. There is no harm in that. I am reminded of episodes of suicide by cop in this notion. This said the first duty of an officer is to go home at night safe and sound. Our officers are not expendable and needless risks ought never be taken. A person with a knife or glass shard and the like, distance can be made and with that disdance an opportunity to communicate. This is a fair point. If the basard charges, no option but to shoot. That's my take.

Anomie88
Anomie88

Sounds like he should retire from his cushy, political job. He isn't a police officer anymore; he is a detriment to his department.

bronx163
bronx163

Typical blue state cancer folks

This retard came from the nypd as a Deputy Inspector. Mayor should resign for hiring this guy as a Chief of police. Pretty brave to hide behind a desk and tell cops use less lethal force against deadly force.

So this guy a traumatic past brain injury. How the hell is he allowed to have a gun and run a police dept?

Really wtf?

Now you know how screwed up nyc is they employed this tool.

Cduncanf
Cduncanf

Clinical evidence that liberalism is a mental disorder.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Not sure I would want a chief who is mentally ill but his condition definitely explains his position on edge weapons.

DarrellB
DarrellB

Liberal Leftist lunacy at it's finest ! ! We hear the same tired excuse from every violent criminal out there: suffering XYZ or _________. There have been 41 Officer involved shootings in VT since 1997 ! ! ! That is about one each year for the last 42 years. Loony lefties want to use that to disarm Police? ? ? What are they going to do to disarm the one criminal a year threatening an Officer in such a way that they are forced to defend themselves?

Rj's
Rj's

Today they will use a statement like"I beleve" "My best recollection" and many other things to use it so they can not be charged if he has a mental issue he should not be an officer of the law or run a Station or City.

Njaz
Njaz

"Unarmed officers will cultivate an instinct to de-escalate,” Chief del Pozo declared. “They will keep a safe distance, they will try to assess the true level of threat rather than see a weapon as a cue to rapidly escalate, and they will communicate in ways that reach people.”

This doesnt make sense-as I see perps running tword officers with weapons. (Live PD) Especially with the drugs being used & what they do to people.🤪

RPG156
RPG156

AYFKM? Tramatic Brain Injury caused him to troll a troll with a fake account? What other TBI decisions has he made? This is just so bizarre that its a ridiculous explanation.

colonelorville
colonelorville

The only time I ever shot anyone, "HE ONLY HAD A KNIFE". If I hadn't shot him, there would have been at least one dead FIRE FIGHTER. I'm a KOREAN WAR MARINE and an 85 year old RETIRED POLICE OFFICER. Even the person I shot, who survived, said that I did the right thing.

michelle1964
michelle1964

Honest chief, I tried talking him out of the knife. But after he stabbed me 3 times I had to shot him. What an idiot. A knife can kill you as quick as a knife.

ACSO-Charles-One
ACSO-Charles-One

If this is still the chiefs idea of good law enforcement tactics, not using a firearm to defend against knives then he is still suffering as a result of the crash from 2018 or he is an idiot.