MONTPELIER, Vt. — Advocates are asking Vermont lawmakers to postpone implementing a revised policing policy that they say could make immigrants less likely to seek help from police in emergencies.
Migrant Justice organizer Will Lambek told lawmakers last week during a legislative hearing that the group believes the state’s revised Fair and Impartial Policing Policy represents a “significant loss of protections” for immigrants. He said the policy could result in increased collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and federal deportation agents.
Last month, the state Criminal Justice Training Council voted unanimously to approve the revised policy. Vermont Public Radio reported that Assistant Attorney General David Scherr, who helped draft it, said a policy that prohibits certain kinds of information sharing could endanger federal funding.
“There was a very serious effort to do the best we could to accommodate the concerns of the advocates, which we frankly, and I think the council in general, really did sympathize with,” Scherr said.
He said there were good reasons the policy could not impose a blanket prohibition on certain kinds of information-sharing, as advocates have called for.
“(Police) need to figure out who somebody is, where they might have gone, and you need to use all the tools available to you to take care of that and to protect the victims involved, so we felt like those were reasonable carve outs,” he said.
Senate lawmakers are scheduled to discuss pushing back the policy’s March 1 implementation this week.