Burlington, VT – A local lawmaker has proposed the idea of disarming the Burlington police force, claiming that when officers carry duty weapons, they “escalate” the level of violence in the city.
“How much is the lethal force…is it really causing at the end of the day, more harm than benefit?” Burlington City Councilor Perri Freeman asked WPTZ.
Freeman claimed that officers perpetuate violence when they carry their duty weapons.
“It actually escalates the violence in our communities,” the councilor declared. “It doesn’t encourage people to be less violent.”
During a recent council meeting, Freeman floated the idea of disarming officers so that they more closely resemble the unarmed police forces she witnessed during her time in Iceland, WPTZ reported.
Freeman acknowledged that police need firearms at times, but argued that such instances are very rare.
“The day in and day out of police work is not engaging with that,” she told WPTZ.
She said that the most important goal is to charge the culture of policing, and to alter practices that contribute to problems such as racial inequality.
Burlington Police Officers’ Association (BPOA) President Daniel Gilligan said there are “very few places in the world” that have opted to disarm their police forces – and for good reason.
“To show up to an armed incident unarmed?” he said in disbelief. “I can’t think of anything more disadvantaged than that.”
Freeman said that her proposal would not be “an overnight thing,” and that it would take time to change the way the police department operates.
“It’s a gradual program,” she told WPTZ. “It’s talking about how do we really shift and talk about doing things maybe differently in a way that might be better in the long run.”
Freeman also said that she did not intend to offend law enforcement officers with her ideas, and claimed her goal is to keep her constituents safe.