The Town Hall will be held on Thursday, Nov 2 at 6:30pm at The Paramount Theatre.
Submit your questions for the event HERE
In the past seven months as your mayor, I have advocated for Rutland’s needs in every venue: from infrastructure, to economic development, to strategic planning. No issue has consumed more of my time than stopping criminal activity in our city. As mayor, I recognized very quickly that in order to reduce crime, we need the right tools. State government must recognize the gaps in our criminal justice system, strategically and rapidly fill those gaps, and empower city governments to keep our communities safe. The legislature holds the power. Our Rutland City Police Department is doing everything they can to combat crime, but the ultimate fate of our cities rests in the hands of the lawmakers who control the judicial system. Action by the state is past due. We need emergency measures NOW.
In the past several years, criminal incidents in Rutland have escalated dramatically. The percentage of cases that involve repeat offenders has continued to climb from 20% to 22% to 27% to now 30%.
This is not the first time Rutland City has experienced a rise in crime rates. However, it is the first time we have seen these rates climb, while we are without the tools to combat this criminal activity. The methods we have to hold offenders accountable are either insufficient or inaccessible, and the State of Vermont is not moving fast enough. It is widely known there is no accountability for offenders beyond a ticket and a future court date; this leaves those who are on the edge of making a poor decision, with even fewer deterrents than ever before. And it leaves our communities vulnerable.
Even when offenders are held accountable through the justice system, a stay in the correctional system is too short, and in the case of rehabilitation , the access is not available to maintain a level of public safety. As we witnessed just days ago, the individual who stole the VSP cruiser and weapon had already been convicted of a crime, was released early, and violated conditions of his release. The individual was not held in prison for violent offenses already committed, and he committed a crime again.This is a failure of a system that has been broken for far too long.
In addition to a failure of accountability, the state lacks alternatives to traditional corrections. There are not enough beds available at rehabilitation centers, and due to the parameters of Medicaid, no stays are extended beyond 14 days. So, the state’s modified approach to “treat rather than detain,” continues to fall far short due to lack of resources and poor planning on the part of the legislation.
The weakness of state laws and the lack of follow through on policies and processes by the legislature, continue to fail to hold criminals accountable. Our city, our businesses and our families are victims of that lack of accountability.
We will not accept this for Rutland.
On November 2nd I will host a town hall-style meeting for the community. Our local legislators, Board of Aldermen, representatives from our state agencies, as well as state leaders, will all be there. We will name our challenges, bring clarity to the issues facing our city, and demand accountability from the state for stopping crime in our community.
In the meantime let us stay vigilant as a community. If you see something, contact our police department. Don’t fall victim to social media rumors and conjecture. Look out for your neighbors, and again, contact the Rutland City Police Department if you have a concern.
My focus when I ran for mayor was Innovation, Action, and Accountability; this foundation grounds me in governing our city. As we continue to work for the Rutland City we all deserve, know that I will do everything in my power to stop and reverse these alarming trends. And I will not rest until those with legislative power do their duty in helping our cities reclaim their safety.