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Friday, March 9, 2018

Burlington's No. 2 Cop Is South Burlington's No. 1 Choice for Chief

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 12:49 PM

click to enlarge Burlington Police Deputy Chief Shawn Burke, left in uniform, and Burlington chief of police Brandon del Pozo. - FILE: SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • File: Sasha Goldstein
  • Burlington Police Deputy Chief Shawn Burke, left in uniform, and Burlington chief of police Brandon del Pozo.
Burlington Police Deputy Chief Shawn Burke is in line for a promotion — in South Burlington.

The suburban city's manager, Kevin Dorn, chose Burke to replace current Chief  Trevor Whipple, who plans to retire in January 2019. Whipple's held the top cop job for a dozen years.

Burke is expected to sign a contract within the next few weeks and start August 1, Dorn said Friday morning. The new and current chiefs would overlap on the job to smooth the transition.

Dorn personally recruited Burke and called him a “highly qualified" and "outstanding" candidate. Dorn said salary had not been finalized.

Burke will "meet and greet" South Burlington residents Monday night at 6 p.m. at City Hall on Dorset Street.

"I am in the police chief process in South Burlington as their selected candidate," Burke wrote in an email Friday morning. "The process is still moving forward."

South Burlington does not have a mayor. Under city rules, department head hires and fires are up to Dorn. The city council, meanwhile, has authority to hire and fire Dorn.

The city manager said that in hiring the new chief, he didn't want to agree to "cookie-cutter" guidelines or sit "back passively" and let people apply.

"The process worked well because I know what we needed," Dorn said.

But some community members were unhappy that Dorn moved unilaterally, without public input.

The council was scheduled to discuss the hiring process at its meeting Thursday; council president Helen Riehle did not immediately return a call for comment Friday morning.

According to Dorn, the discussion at Thursday's meeting was productive. He told Seven Days that the hiring process was fair, and that he had informed the council of his approach to filling the chief's job before he embarked on the hire.

South Burlington police are increasingly dealing with individuals who have mental health problems or are addicted to opioids, Dorn said, and Burke's experience in Burlington with those issues made him a strong candidate.

The current South Burlington chief also praised Burke. "I'm a little possessive with who will take my place, and I'm pleased with the choice,” Whipple said Friday.

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said Burke told him several weeks ago that he was in the running for the South Burlington job.

"Deputy Chief Burke is an experienced and talented chief with great potential for positions of increasing responsibility and leadership. He is a key part of our team here," del Pozo said, adding: "We encourage all of our employees to advance in their careers. Beyond that, South Burlington hasn't let us know where the process stands.

"The South Burlington manager hasn't been in contact."

Burke was one of four finalists for Burlington's top police job in 2015, when the city ultimately hired del Pozo.

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Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh

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Molly Walsh is a Seven Days staff writer.

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