Richmond Racial Equity, assisted by Migrant Justice and allied attorneys, gave a presentation to the Richmond Selectboard at their regular meeting on Monday, January 4, 2020 on the need for a modified Fair and Impartial Policing policy that would forbid Richmond police from cooperating directly with federal agencies regarding the immigration status of migrants and others. The Selectboard listened receptively and indicated that they would all be willing to vote ‘yea’ on a resolution adopting the new policy, but stopped short of agreeing to mandate it.
The Selectboard has heard from the town’s attorney as well as from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns that they do not have the legal authority to mandate such a policy; the ACLU and other attorneys that RRE members have spoken with feel otherwise. Kyle Kapitanski, the acting Chief of Police for Richmond, was at the meeting and stated that he would put the policy in place once the Selectboard passes the resolution. Asked if that was not good enough, RRE representatives expressed concern that future police chiefs might elect to go in a different direction and without the force of a town ordinance, there would be nothing legally that we could do to stop them.
All parties agreed that the best outcome would be for this to be settled at a state level, with the state giving clear permission to towns to adopt such policies and/or mandating the policy at a statewide level. Jana Brown, our incoming state representative, was at the meeting and indicated that it would be discussed during the upcoming session.
The next step is for the Selectboard to draft a resolution to adopt at the next meeting — the actual resolution may wind up being fairly short, but the “whereas”es that would lay out the reason and justification for the policy might be rather lengthy, and will need to be hashed out. Every indication is that the Selectboard will adopt the resolution supporting the revised Fair and Impartial Policing policy at its January 18 meeting and we thank them for their support and for the time and effort they’ve put into this issue.