Implementing the Town Vision and Community Policing

The limitations of the traditional model of policing across our nation has highlighted the need for our community to develop new approaches to policing. The Town of Bennington, its police department, and Select Board, all support the philosophy of community policing and are working together with the community to develop a clearer picture of what that should look like in our town.

The materials found in this Community Policing page provides a summary of the work done to date in this effort, as well as background information, resources, and materials to support community policing in our town.

TO SHARE YOUR IDEAS for making our community more inclusive, SCROLL DOWN.


Town Vision and Police Department Mission Statements – Adopted August 24, 2020


Summary of Community Policing Efforts

Beginning in 2019, the Bennington Select Board began looking at ways to address concerns of racial injustice in our community in regards to its police force. In the fall of 2019, the Select Board hired the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to assess the Bennington Police Department’s (BPD) activities and policies. The report did not find evidence of unfair, discriminatory, or biased policing activities, but they did make 25 recommendations that the Select Board in partnership with the BPD is working to implement.

Police Policies and Procedures

A Community Policing Work Group was created by the Select Board to focus on the implementation of the IACP recommendations. To further that effort, the Select Board hired a Community Policing Consultant, Curtiss Reed and the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, in May of 2020. That led to a series of public meetings, the creation of a new Town vision and police mission statement, and the creation of a Community Policy Advisory Committee. That collaborative work has resulted in the updating of numerous police policies that have now been completed and are available on the BPD website benningtonpolice.com. (see details below)

Police Advisory Committee

A number of those IACP recommendations were around the topic of Assessment of the Community-Police Relationship and Community Policing Initiatives. The Select Board contracted with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) in June of 2021 to assist in the development of a “Safety and Equity board.”

The task force, consisting of ten community members (including one BPD officer) and representation from NACOLE, was seated in September 2021 with the purpose of providing recommendations on what that future oversight board should look like. After several months of work, a final report was presented to the Select Board. The Select Board with advice from counsel made changes resulting a Resolution for Community Policing Advisory Review.  The resolution passed on April 11.

A final version of the complaints and compliments process has also been developed.

All records, materials, and videos from the meetings of the task force are all available on the Safety and Equity task force page on the Town website at https://benningtonvt.org/safety-equity-task-force/.


Declaration of Inclusion

Following an introduction by the Bennington Rotary Club, the Select Board unanimously adopted the Declaration of Inclusion in October 2021 and established a working group including Tom Haley and Jeannie Jenkins to gather information on how to move the Declaration from words into action.

Thus far, the working group has had conversations with representatives from civic and business groups, school system, organizations focused on equity and inclusion, and staff from several Vermont towns. To date, input has been received from twenty different entities. The working group intends to update the full board and make recommendations in February or March of 2022.

MATERIALS:
List of Towns and Entities Providing Input
Recommendations Summary

Add Your Idea to the List

We would like to hear your ideas on how the Town can implement the goals laid out in the Declaration of Inclusion.

NOTE: We won’t include the name of an organization with a suggested idea, nor will we use names of individuals. All information other than the idea itself is for internal use only.

 

Focus on Town Vision

In April 2021, the Select Board begin sharing the Town Vision at the beginning of every Select Board meeting. In November 2021, the Community Policing standing agenda item was renamed Implementing the Town’s Vision to incorporate all the facets of community and board work currently underway.

 


Public Review of Procedures for Bennington Police Department Now Complete.

In September 2020, Bennington began a process to develop and/or update policies for critical police department policies identified by the IACP. This was done through community advisory committees, each with seven members.

The seven member committees included three permanent members: Assistant Town Manager Dan Monks, Select Board member Bruce Lee-Clark, and BPD officer Dan Ferrara. Each policy committee included three to four community members. In all, forty-six community members participated in the policy committees.

  • The policies include:
  • Use of Force
  • Duty to Intervene
  • Use of Conducted Electrical Weapons
  • Fair and Impartial Policing
  • Investigation of Hates Crimes
  • Responding to Persons Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis
  • Motor Vehicle Stops
  • Domestic Violence
  • Social Media
  • Special Events
  • Body Worn Cameras
  • Collaborative Partnerships
  • Employee Nepotism and Fraternization
  • Code of Conduct

A formal three-week comment period on Police procedures allowed the community to participate. Following the public comment period, the BPD reviewed and incorporated comments, as appropriate. The final policies and procedures were completed in January of 2022 and has been posted on the BPD website.


Resources

Safety and Equity Board Information
Please visit our Safety and Equity task force page.

Resources from Vermont Partnership
For Fairness and Diversity
Exploring Vision and Mission Community Gathering – August 5, 2020
Exploring Our Vision and Mission for Bennington – Meeting Announcement – August 5, 2020
Community Policing Update – Press Release July 21, 2020
Understanding Implicit Bias Staff Training – July 14, 15, 2020
Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity Scope of Work Document
Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity submits this Proposed Scope of Work for the Town of
Bennington including budget and illustrative timeline at the request of the Town Select Board. The
Select Board approved the request at its meeting on 25 May 2020.
Virtual Community Meeting Flyer

Resources from IACP
IACP Model Policies
Anti-Bias Resources
IACP Assessment of the Bennington Police Department Policy and Procedure Report
Please watch to hear and see their findings/suggestions. (Video Presentation is pre-recorded)

Resources from The Bennington Free Library
Community Policing entry includes Overview, Viewpoints, Academic Journals and more.
Provided by Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, part of the Vermont Online Library.
Access is open to anyone in Vermont. Click “Use My Location” and then “Allow.”

Jonathan Clark, Vermont Dept. of Libraries Consultant for Children and Teens Services shared a crowdsourced document, “Booklists and Resources Addressing Race and Social Justice.” Booklists and Resources by age group, including Caregivers & Educators. This three-page document includes links and will continue to be updated.

Booklist Publications, part of the American Library Association shared “Reading for Change: Booklist-Recommended Antiracism Titles for All Ages”

REMEMBER: The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world! The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex!

Visit the homepage of each and note these timely offerings:

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture launched “Talking About Race”, a new online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture.

AND a Bonus Collaborative Offering!

Be reminded “there is hope in history” and of the power of images and books and more! Watch National Book Festival Presents: “Carla Hayden & Lonnie Bunch: Cultural Institutions at Times of Social Unrest”

Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress and Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution discuss the future of their institutions and how they remain accessible and relevant during a period of global pandemic coupled with nationwide protests against injustice.

Resources from The John G. McCullough Free Library

For Adults and Teens:
The National Museum of African American History and the Smithsonian Institute’s Talking About Race
Black Lives Matter: Essential Readings for Adults and Teens from the Los Angeles Public Library
Understanding Structural Racism from the San Francisco Public Library
The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center Black Liberation Reading List
An Antiracist Reading List by Ibram X. Kendi, as published in The New York Times
5 Books to Read About Race and the Police, a list by Joumana Khatib, as published in The New York Times
Resources to Teach the History of Policing in America That You Won’t Find in Textbooks, compiled by Valerie Strauss, as published in The Washington Post

For Parents and Educators:
Race, Racism and Revolution Reading List for Educators from the New York Public Library
Anti-Racism Books for Kids from The New York Times
School Library Journal’s Diversity & Cultural Literacy Toolkit
School Library Journal also provides many recommended reading lists on its website.
How to Explain Racism to Kids: the CNN/ Sesame Street Town Hall video

Resources from Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union
Student Resources , Parent Resources , Community Member Resources , Definitions and Videos