Police Chief Opposing Cop Gun Use Resigns Amid Tweeting Scandal

Holly Matkin

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo resigned from the department on Monday.

Burlington, VT – The police chief who declared that law enforcement officers are too quick to defend themselves against knife-wielding suspects resigned from his position on Monday in the wake of a Twitter-trolling scandal.

Last week, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo admitted that he had set up a fake Twitter account to mock one of his critics, and confessed that he also lied to a reporter back in July when he was asked if he was the one behind the account.

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 Charles Winkleman, a Burlington resident known for criticizing city leaders, Seven Days reported.

Late Monday morning, Chief del Pozo posted the resignation letter he sent to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger to his actual Twitter account.

“It was such an honor and a privilege to be our city's Chief of Police,” the now-former chief tweeted. “I'm looking forward to future opportunities to serve, and happy and healthy times with my family.”

“I will look back on my time here with intense feelings of pride and accomplishment,” he wrote in the letter. “Most of all, I am so proud to have led such a great group of people…Whoever leads them next needs to make sure they are well taken care of, protected, and inspired.”

Del Pozo said he plans to turn his attention to finishing a book he is writing about being a law enforcement officer, and that he will soon wrap up his Ph.D. in political philosophy.

Several Burlington City Council members called for Chief del Pozo to resign from his position in the wake of the Twitter controversy, WCAX reported.

Weinberger confirmed that he had accepted the chief’s resignation during a press conference on Monday.

Weinberger and del Pozo are both slated to speak before the city council on Monday night, WCAX reported.

Meanwhile, the Peace and Justice Center will stage a protest outside Burlington City Hall to demand that del Pozo be removed from the Howard Center for Human Services board of trustees, where Winkleman is reportedly employed.

Chief del Pozo created the @WinkleWatchers account while he was off duty on July 4 with the intention of mocking Winkleman, 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 was still frustrated that the police chief didn’t reach 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 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 (20)

After reading the chief's thoughts on engaging and dealing with deadly force makes me think this chief was too stupid to be a street cop.

No. 1-17

hahahahahahaha. is it that hard to post anonymously on twitter to troll your opponent? heck, we have some dimwits here that do that, and they haven't gotten caught (yet). anonymous email account from a free email provider... it's not that tough to do.... and don't attach anything from your real like to your troll account....

if this guy is too stupid to do that (as well as his other stupid opinions), he has no business being in charge of anyone, and deserves to lose his job.


Chalk up another one for the good guys!


Hmm... A brain injury from a bike crash was his excuse. Does that remind anyone of a "change in medication" causing another police chief to be passed out on the side of the road after drinking with a woman who was not his wife?

Ferret guy
Ferret guy

I'm thinking that the fine men and women on that police force isn't too broken hearted about his resignation


"Brain injury" my sweet puckered up popo.


Senator Mitt Romney needs to think about resigning too after his fake twitter account and undermining President Trump. Disarming our cops is a bad idea, considering how anti-gun laws never affect criminals who disregard them.


He needs help. Like go away for a long time help.


He won't be missed


Note how the former Chief portrays all perps as victims, “people in crisis.” Yes, some, some, are, but probably most are actually willfully “creating” a crisis. Big difference that demonstrates the typical Leftist “it’s society’s fault” viewpoint when people turn to crime. His departure shouldn’t be regarded as a significant loss.


He's blaiming a brain injury for his inability to command a department...but will write a book of the subject?


After that asinine and bizarrely ridiculous knife defense comment, I was hoping that this city might somehow be saved from his policies before an officer had to die to prove him wrong and it came true that he threw himself on his sword... to seal a timely end to his reign. The only thing now that would be better would be if he admitted the knife comment was also inspired by his TBI.


Good riddance!


The Chief clearly needed to step down, not because of the Tweets but because of that op-ed he wrote. Law enforcement officers have for some time now used de-escalation methods before it became a buzz word. given the number of interactions law enforcement has as a whole, the end result is more often they are successful in resolving matters. according to BJS. Among the 53.5 million U.S. residents age 16 or older who had contact with police during the prior 12 months (as of 2015), nearly 1 million (2%) experienced threats or use of force, Males (3%) were more likely. The measure of threatened or used force during the most recent contact was based on respondent answers to a series of questions about police actions during the contact. For this report by BJS, the police threatened or used force if they took one or more of the following actions: threatening to use force „ handcuffing „ pushing, grabbing, hitting, or kicking „ using a chemical or pepper spray „ using an electroshock weapon „ pointing a gun „ using some other type of force.

Less than 1% of residents (0.3%) experienced threatened force by police during the most recent contact. About 2% experienced handcuffing, and 1% experienced a more severe form of physical force, such as hitting or kicking, or having a gun pointed at them. Does law enforcement strive to bring the numbers down Yes they do, but it is a two-party process if the suspects don't cooperate then officers will have exhaust what none lethal tools they have to gain compliance and again the suspects determine the speed and order at which these tools are used based on their actions? Policies can not be so narrow and restrictive that they place the officer's lives and the public in danger first in order to preserve the life of the suspects. Cookie-cutter use of force policies on the use of force does not work if they are so restrictive to the point of the benefit of the violators. Each incident needs to be addressed on its own, given the circumstances of that event at the time it occurred threw the perspective of the facts known to the officer and not with the benefit of hindsight. People should recognize that we have a percentage of the population that will not comply with police for personal beliefs or for emotional reasons and no amount of de-escalation or time, or distance will fix their issues and law enforcement has no magical method or tool that will fix what is often a lifestyle or sociological issue. We can not continue to assign the burden on the officers and not put in place systems that address the root issues of most of these events. while at the same time dismissing the often criminal behavior that calls attention to these subjects. There is no simple fix but only looking at one part of the link in the chain and saying this is the issue doesn't work either.


Brain injury- Democratitis same thing!!!


Bike crash????

No it’s the uranium chips implanted in the bars and stars!!

Why else do so many loose it when promoted?????

Just an observation after 26yrs



We need to vote more competent people into all of these political offices because they have too much power and many of them are fools like A.O.C. and Maxine Waters. To think that a politician can advise someone on police and military matters is insane.