Letter: Letter's accusations against BPD false

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To the Editor:

I write in response to a letter in the September 11 Banner.

In the letter, the author accuses the Bennington Police Department (BPD) of enabling and shielding Max Misch when he was trolling Kiah Morris and her family. The truth is Mr. Misch was shielded by the Constitution's First Amendment, the right to free speech, according to the Vermont Attorney General. Mr. Misch's actions, however terrible, did not violate the law. The Bennington Police Department did not make that determination; those who would prosecute did.

The author references a recently settled lawsuit as proving racial discrimination. The lawsuit settlement specifically states that allegations of violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, Equal Protection, and Civil Rights Act, Discrimination Based on Race, were dismissed with prejudice and the settlement was reached for the sole purpose of avoiding protracted and expensive litigation. Remarks to the contrary do not change that.

And finally, the author states that the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in its review of the Department's policies and procedures, found that the Department was "engaging in systemic racism." That is false. The IACP, in its report, states that it found "no policies that would encourage systemic bias in the organization". It did find there was a "lack of policies that would strengthen opportunities to support members of the community who are most at risk for disparate treatment". The Department, Town management, and the Select Board have accepted that finding and are moving forward to address it.

There are positive actions underway here in Bennington, actions to address shortcomings identified by the IACP and actions that build upon the very positive community activities the BPD employees already sponsor and support. Members of the community are involved and working with us. Not everyone will agree with what follows or with every action taken. That is democracy. That is life.

Stuart A. Hurd,

Bennington

The writer is the Bennington town manager.

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