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January 08, 2009

BPD Police Chief: Recession Will Cause "Significant Impact" on Law Enforcement Funding

Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling is in Washington today. Schirling is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow at 10 a.m. His speech, which concerns the challenges facing small-town police departments, will stream live on BPD's website.

As the Burlington Free Press reports, Schirling was invited to speak by committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). According to the chief's statement, which is available in PDF format on the BPD site, federal money helps the department implement a "community policing" strategy to deal with local problems. Schirling says he is concerned that the economic recession will have a "significant impact" on funding for state and local law enforcement.

Schirling supports the Rural Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 2009. According to his Senate testimony, the legislation was introduced recently by Leahy and would allocate $75 million toward hiring police officers, buying police gear and funding prevention programs.

"It's a little daunting," Schirling told Seven Days yesterday on his way to the Burlington International Airport this morning. "It's a little different audience than I'm used to."

BPD released a new public survey on community policing this Monday. On January 19, the department holds the first of three public forums on its community policing strategy. To fill out the survey, or for more info on the forums, visit the department website.

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