After a rigorous search, Burlington’s mayor has announced the appointment of a new police chief. North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley was at the Burlington Police Department as a veteran NYPD officer was named to lead the force in Vermont’s largest city.
Under the leadership of Chief Michael Schirling, the Burlington Police Department won accolades and awards for its community policing and policies. There were occasional controversies, but his tenure is remembered for implementing initiatives such as equipping all officers with tasers and body cameras, creating new street crimes unit, and the expansion of diversity and cultural competency training.
In March Chief Schirling announced that he would retire after 25 years of service to the department, including seven years as chief.
A search committee reviewed applications, interviewed eight candidates and recommended four finalists.
On Tuesday Mayor Miro Weinberger announced the appointment of NYPD Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo as chief, noting that he has the most extensive command experience. “Having served in a larger system Brandon will bring important perspectives to the challenges we face here in Burlington today. There are not too many people out there who have the combination of command experience, academic training and understanding of the 21st century police challenges that Burlington and all American communities face. Brandon has that. We’re fortunate that he’s bringing that understanding and background here to Burlington.”
Del Pozo is a graduate of Dartmouth College. He holds masters degrees in criminal justice and philosophy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and John Jay College. He is working on his dissertation for a doctorate from the City University of New York. He has worked in the NYPD Office of Strategic Initiatives and Office of Special Projects. He has commanded the 50th precinct and the 6th precinct – which covers Greenwich Village and New York University.
He served in the Army National Guard, including the Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vermont, and was commander of Bravo Company during Ground Zero recovery and security operations. And that’s just a sampling of his extensive resume. Yet Brandon del Pozo says he’s only applied for two jobs. “I’ve been checking to see if this job was open probably for the last ten years. Every six weeks or so I would check to see if the Burlington spot opened up and in March I refreshed my browser. It said Burlington Police Chief open. It took me five minutes to call up the Human Resources Department and apply.” So this has been a goal of yours? “Make no mistake I love this city. I think it’s a fantastic city and I meant it when I said this is the second job I’ve applied to as an adult. The first was the NYPD and then there’s this one. It came around when it came around: eighteen years into my NYPD career.”
Del Pozo says he will need to take stock of Burlington and the department, but is excited for potential opportunities for the Burlington Police. “I just know there will be opportunities to bring technology into policing that allow the police to do more effective work, maybe with a lighter touch on the citizens. There’s also going to be opportunities as Vermont changes. Number one with the refugee resettlement issues that we’re talking about, and number two with the opiate problem. There’s going to be opportunities to really take a deeper dive into connecting with the public. Making refugees feel like a part of a community and making them feel like they’re well policed and also making people who are struggling with opiate addiction feel like they have hope, that’s done by connecting with them. That’s done by really reaching out and knowing that the police can be a positive part of their lives. And that’s just going to take good old fashioned community policing.”
School Board Commissioner Kyle Dodson was a member of the search committee. He says del Pozo not only presented flawless academic and experience credentials but also presented a singular knowledge of Burlington. “They all were great candidates. But when you ask this question about who’s done their research and who seems to bring a degree of prior experience, thoughtfulness, and intelligence to a vision for moving forward Brandon del Pozo was top of the list for me.”
Del Pozo’s appointment will go before the City Council for final approval at its July 13th meeting. If approved, he will begin work on September 1st. In the meantime, Deputy Chief Jannine Wright is serving as Acting Chief.