Safety, equity board proposed in Bennington

Bennington County

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A new town board has been proposed in Bennington to allow community involvement in decision-making concerning public safety and equity issues.

The Community Policing Work Group of the Bennington Select Board released a draft proposal for the new board on Thursday, the Bennington Banner reported. The goal of the so-called Community Safety and Equity Board is to create a structure to provide community involvement in decision-making likely to include recommendations on police department training and review of police complaints and certain police department policies and procedures, the proposal states.

Last month, Bennington agreed to pay the family of Kiah Morris, a Black former state lawmaker, $137,000 and to issue a public apology over complaints that the Bennington Police Department did not adequately investigate online and other racially motivated harassment.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police found last year that the department’s practices have created deep mistrust in parts of the community, undermining its “law enforcement legitimacy.” The report said the department has some outdated and unclear policies, lacked a mission statement that officers were aware of, and often has a “warrior mentality” in daily interactions with residents.

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