Law Enforcement

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Road to Adjournment Is Always Bumpy

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2016 at 7:01 PM

Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) and Sen. Peg Flory (R-Rutland) negotiate with Rep. Chip Conquest (D-Newbury), with his back to the camera, on driver’s license-suspension legislation. - NANCY REMSEN
  • Nancy Remsen
  • Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) and Sen. Peg Flory (R-Rutland) negotiate with Rep. Chip Conquest (D-Newbury), with his back to the camera, on driver’s license-suspension legislation.
With dozens of bills still in play Thursday and the deadline for a Saturday adjournment looming, talks on some priority legislation turned testy, as lawmakers abandoned pleasantries and pressed their positions.

In morning talks on the transportation project bill, negotiators went back and forth over the new restrictions that the House wanted to add to improve safety for bicycle riders. “That is a huge issue for the House side,” Rep. Tim Corcoran (D-Bennington) told the senators across the table.

Senators countered that bikers and motorists need to share the road. “I’m reluctant to put all the responsibility on the motorists,” said Sen. Peg Flory (R-Rutland). 

Neither side was ready to budge at this stage in their talks.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sens. Patrick Leahy, Cory Booker Talk Criminal Justice Reforms

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2016 at 6:13 PM

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) talks with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) looks on. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) talks with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) looks on.
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) touted their efforts to reduce incarceration and reform the criminal justice system during a forum at Burlington City Hall on Monday.

The senators led a panel featuring Gov. Peter Shumlin, Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan, U.S. Attorney Eric Miller, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and others. 

Booker, a former mayor of Newark and a darling of the left, introduced a bill last year that would reexamine federal sentencing laws and reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. Leahy cosponsored the bill.

“If you really look at the data of who we imprison, we are painfully moving away from our values,” Booker said. “We are a nation that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than poor and innocent. Our prison population is overwhelmingly poor ... It is overwhelmingly addicted … It is overwhelmingly mentally ill, and [it includes] victims of trauma and sexual abuse. And it is disproportionately minority.”

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Drone Debate in House Judiciary Balances Privacy, Public Safety

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 6:18 PM

Rep. Maxine Grad, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which voted out a privacy protection bill addressing the use of drones and license-plate readers. - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rep. Maxine Grad, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which voted out a privacy protection bill addressing the use of drones and license-plate readers.
The House Judiciary Committee walked a tightrope Thursday in recommending its version of a bill to protect personal privacy.

The legislation sets guidelines for how and when the police may use drones, and it reauthorizes police use of cameras that capture photos of license plates and establishes the procedures that law enforcement agencies must follow to gain access to electronic communications.

“What is important is the balance between protecting individual privacy and enhancing public safety,” said Rep. Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), chair of the committee.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, April 25, 2016

Former Alburgh Selectman Pleads Guilty to Drug Distribution

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 4:46 PM

Bernard Savage - COURTESY OF ELODIE REED/ST. ALBANS MESSENGER
  • Courtesy of Elodie Reed/St. Albans Messenger
  • Bernard Savage
A former Alburgh selectboard member pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday to drug trafficking charges and agreed to forfeit $75,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Bernard Savage pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute powder cocaine and oxycodone between 2014 and June 2015, when his home was raided by investigators. Savage, who faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, will be sentenced at a later date.

After his July arrest, Savage told Seven Days that he had no intentions of resigning his seat on the Alburgh Selectboard, even after fellow board members pressured him to step down. He resigned in October.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Friday, April 22, 2016

ICE Detains Local Migrant Worker and Activist at Stowe Restaurant

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 3:33 PM

Victor Diaz, center, after discussing the “Milk with Dignity” campaign with a Ben & Jerry’s representative. - COURTESY OF MIGRANT JUSTICE
  • Courtesy of Migrant Justice
  • Victor Diaz, center, after discussing the “Milk with Dignity” campaign with a Ben & Jerry’s representative.
Updated at 1:00 p.m. on 4/25/2016 with information from Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained a Mexican farmworker and prominent migrant rights activist in Vermont Thursday, according to a friend who was with him at the time.

Victor Diaz was about to enter Green Goddess Cafe in Stowe for a Mexican food event when two officers in plainclothes asked for his name. After he complied, they apprehended him, said Enrique Balcazar, a fellow organizer also from Mexico.

ICE released a statement late Friday saying that 24-year-old Diaz became an “enforcement priority” after he was convicted for a DUI last November. It described him as a citizen of Mexico and noted that he “will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.”

Balcazar said the agents, who showed badges, did not question him. 

Members of Migrant Justice walk towards Sen. Patrick Leahy's Burlington office. - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Members of Migrant Justice walk towards Sen. Patrick Leahy's Burlington office.
On Friday, members of the group Migrant Justice and other supporters crowded into the foyer of Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Burlington office, demanding that he intervene on Diaz’s behalf.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Vermont's Arrangement to House Inmates in Michigan Could Be at Risk

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 12:42 PM

MICHAEL TONN
  • Michael Tonn
Updated at 8:46 a.m. with a statement from The GEO Group.
The Vermont Department of Corrections' contract to house overflow inmates in a private prison in Michigan could be in jeopardy.

A plan gaining momentum in the Michigan Senate would see that state's DOC close two of its oldest prisons, and send inmates to North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Mich., which is privately owned by The GEO Group. The state of Michigan would lease the entire prison and run North Lake as a state facility, according to various media reports.

Currently, 230 Vermont inmates are held in North Lake under a two-year, $30 million contract inked by the Vermont DOC and GEO last year. That contract allows either party to void it with five months notice.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, April 15, 2016

After EB-5 Revelations, Ernie Pomerleau Reflects on Failed Deal With Bill Stenger

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 3:33 PM

Bill Stenger surveys the Newport Renaissance Block site. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Bill Stenger surveys the Newport Renaissance Block site.
In 2014, Burlington developer Tony Pomerleau backed out of a deal with Newport businessman Bill Stenger after waiting four years for Stenger to come up with the first of multiple $1 million payments.

In 2010, Pomerleau, one of Vermont’s leading developers, had agreed to sell Newport’s prime Waterfront Plaza, a shopping center on Lake Memphremagog, to Stenger, who said he planned to build a hotel and marina there using the same EB-5 investor program he used to transform Jay Peak Resort and launch other projects in the NEK.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, April 11, 2016

Traffic-Stop Data Show Racial Disparities in Burlington Policing

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Stephanie Seguino and Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo field councilors' questions about race data. - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Stephanie Seguino and Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo field councilors' questions about race data.
This post was updated at 12:15 p.m. on April 12, 2016 with additional background and details.

After studying four years of traffic-stop data in Burlington, University of Vermont economics professor Stephanie Seguino has concluded that there’s evidence of police officers targeting black drivers.

Seguino, who conducted the analysis with Cornell professor Nancy Brooks based on data recorded by officers from 2012 through 2015, presented findings to the city council Monday night.

Among them: Black drivers were more likely than their white counterparts to get pulled over in Burlington, and, once stopped, they were less likely to get off with just a warning. White drivers got warnings 69.4 percent of the time, whereas black drivers got warnings only 61.6 percent of the time.

Black drivers were more likely to be searched after being stopped: 3.3 percent of the time, compared to 1.1 percent of the time for white drivers.

But searches of black motorists turned up contraband only 46.2 percent of the time, whereas searches of white drivers produced illegal items 63.5 percent of the time. That could mean white drivers were getting under-searched or black drivers were getting over-searched, Seguino suggested. The difference in arrest rates between races, she noted, was not statistically significant.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Friday, April 8, 2016

Burlington Police Chief Questions the Effectiveness of Tasers

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 11:16 AM

Burlington police chief Brandon del Pozo - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Burlington police chief Brandon del Pozo
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo is questioning the reliability of the Taser, a ubiquitous law enforcement device.

The fact that Taser shots failed to subdue a mentally ill man who was subsequently fatally shot by police has caused his department to “reevaluate the trust we place in the instrument,” del Pozo said during an interview Wednesday.  

Nationwide, departments have stocked up on these stun guns, which are touted as a way to avoid drawing an actual gun. As part of a reform package announced after Chicago police shot and killed Laquan McDonald, Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently ordered nearly 800 of them. 

Tasers work in two different ways. From a distance, they can shoot barbs into people, which have wires that attach to the device. With this method, an electric shock temporarily makes people lose muscular control. Tasers can also be applied directly to people’s skin, incapacitating them simply by causing intense pain. 

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

VTrans Deploys Signs Tallying Road Deaths

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2016 at 4:01 PM

Traffic heads south on Interstate 89 at the Waterbury exit during a 2015 bridge construction project. - FILE: TERRI HALLENBECK
  • File: Terri Hallenbeck
  • Traffic heads south on Interstate 89 at the Waterbury exit during a 2015 bridge construction project.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation on Wednesday set up electronic message boards on state highways to display the number of people who have died in highway accidents this year.

VTrans says it will show the tally throughout the state every Wednesday in an effort to encourage safe driving. The agency is modeling the program on similar initiatives in Tennessee and Colorado. Boards were set up in Waterbury, Milton, Richmond and other locations.

Thirteen people have died in Vermont highway accidents this year, and 57 died in 2015.

VTrans also created a new application for exploring detailed information about the locations and causes of Vermont highway crashes.

“Most highway deaths are preventable and can clearly be connected with driver behavior,” said VTrans chief engineer Kevin Marshia. “Speed, distraction, remembering to wear seat belts, and not driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol are all things that drivers can control, and we hope that this sobering reminder will help everyone become more aware of the consequences of these behaviors.”

Tags: , , , ,

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
e-newsletters:

All content © 2016 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So Champlain St Ste 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation