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Bennington Police Department
118 South Street
Bennington, VT 05201
Contact Numbers:
Phone: (802) 442-1030
Fax: (802) 442-1067

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Tenets of the Bennington Police Department - Moving Forward

March 16, 2021

Ensure that the fundamental principle of the Bennington Police Department is to value and preserve human life.

  • Incorporate this belief into the mission, vision, goals, ethics, and oath of the Bennington Police Department.
  • Healing of the community means healing of all. There needs to be acknowledgement and empathy shown to all regardless of position, race, religion, gender, or socio-economic standing.
  • Bennington Police Department leadership need to continue to emphasize and prioritize equally both the physical safety and mental well-being of officers and staff. This includes having more open conversations about coping with stress and trauma within the Bennington Police Department and informing the public, as well as elected and appointed officials, of the stress and demands on officers and staff.

Establish shared expectations between members of the Bennington Police Department, the community, and elected and appointed officials.

  • Members of the Bennington Police Department and elected and appointed officials must jointly shoulder the responsibility to share expectations and offer solutions. This responsibility includes listening and weighing outcomes of potential decisions and policies. Whenever feasible, policies and practices should be evidence-based and represent the best interest of all involved.
  • Ensure that all voices are welcomed and heard. Members of the Bennington community need to be clear in their expectations for the police department. Bennington Police Department leaders and officers need to be able to speak about potential outcomes to operational changes. If members of the Bennington community want changes to police department operations, the Police Chief should inform the public of potential costs and benefits of that change allowing the community to make informed and appropriate decisions. Elected and appointed officials are responsible for facilitating this process, ensuring thoughtful changes are implemented, and owning the outcome.
  • Acknowledge that past and present inequities in the Bennington community often shape views that drive calls for change. This acknowledgement promotes a greater level of understanding by all, that certain embedded feelings must not be taken lightly or dismissed and will be taken into consideration when developing and receiving recommendations for changes in Bennington Police Department policies and procedures.
  • Develop an objective and clearly established evaluation process for the Bennington Police Department based on shared, understood expectations.

Implement a system-wide approach to policies and procedures so to thoughtfully anticipate benefits and cost for sustainable approaches.

  • Many police agencies throughout the United States have implemented community-focused police approaches and have policies, procedures and practices in place that emphasize the duty of care as well as strict policies and procedures around police tactics to ensure the well-being and safety of the community and officers. Adoption of these approaches must become wide-spread and serve as principles for the Bennington Police Department.
  • However, as communities, elected officials, appointed officials and the Bennington Police Department are developing new and innovative approaches to public safety, the focus should expand beyond just policies and procedures to include both the broader criminal justice and public health ecosystems:
    • Maximize available, thoughtful resources, similar to the process for recommendations from the Commission of Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. This extensive effort in the United States brought together subject matter experts to study and produce recommendations related to the entire criminal justice system. The Commission specifically looked at how to make systematic improvements and enhance coordination between police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and correctional authorities to increase the ability to prevent and control crime, prevent unnecessary incarceration, serve the victims of crime, and improve community-police engagement.
    • Embrace proven, evidence-based programs that incorporate broader public health and social wellness into cohesive approaches to community wellness and public safety in Bennington.

Hold prosecutors and the judiciary accountable for their decision-making/discretion.

  • The decisions and practices of the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office, The Vermont Attorney General's Office and the Vermont Judiciary directly impact public safety, particularly the trust and confidence the community has in the Bennington Police Department. While there are multiple ways to hold offenders accountable, prosecutorial and judicial discretion is an important tenet of the criminal justice system. As a result, there needs to be continued alignment between the Bennington Police Department and the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office to ensure agreement on the enforcement and prosecution of criminal offenses. Bennington Police Officers are the branch of municipal government that enforces the law, but they do not make the laws. If the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office and the Vermont Judiciary are disconnected from the Bennington Police Department, and/or the laws they are enforcing, the public loses faith in the police.
  • Prosecution and punishment should be proportional to the offense alleged and should not vary by race, wealth or status of the defendant.

Recognize that policing involves dynamic, unpredictable, and very dangerous situations.

  • Bennington Police Department leadership should, whenever appropriate, educate the Bennington community on policies and procedures, practices, and incidents to further understanding of policing dynamics, advance transparency, and to enhance Bennington community-police engagement.
  • The Bennington community should expect excellence, while also recognizing that Bennington Police Officers are human. Bennington Police Department leadership and officers must continue to hold each other accountable for wrongful actions, and always remember that officers have a duty to intervene to prevent or stop the use of excessive force by another officer when it is safe and reasonable to do so.
  • Complaints against members of the Bennington Police Department must receive thorough, timely, transparent, and objective investigation to determine the validity of the complaint, root cause of failure and work towards improvement.
  • When addressing problematic behavior by Bennington Police Officers, the Police Chief and Town Manager should have broad discretion in determining consequences and be able to act swiftly.

The Bennington Community and Bennington Police Department leaders must demand, of their elected and appointed leadership, improvements to social shortcomings that deteriorate lives and perpetuate cyclical involvement with the criminal justice system to include poverty, limited education, substance abuse, and mental health. The Bennington Community and elected officials must provide financial resources allowing the Bennington Police Department to accomplish its mission.

  • Bennington Police officers, as the most visible form of Town of Bennington government, are expected to increasingly deal with the social ills that plague our society but often lack the authority, training, or expertise to proactively address these issues. These collective societal failures for those who suffer from homelessness, drug addition, and mental illness have pushed these problems to the street for members of the Bennington Police Department to deal with.
  • Good policing contributes to a safer and better community. As the Bennington community, elected and appointed officials develop policies and procedures, leaders at the Bennington Police Department, as public safety experts, should be aware, consulted, and serve as resources to recommend and deliver better policies, procedures and solutions.

Bennington Police Department