Brandon del Pozo
|Brandon del Pozo|
|Chief of police|
|Preceded by||Michael Schirling|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Sarah Carnevale (m. 2002)|
|Alma mater||Dartmouth College, John F. Kennedy School of Government, City University of New York Graduate Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Stuyvesant High School|
Brandon del Pozo (born 1974) is the chief of police in the city of Burlington, Vermont, United States. He assumed the position on September 1, 2015. His appointment was contested by some locals due to his prior work with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and an article about racial profiling he published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2002. After a public discussion of this work of scholarship and his views, his nomination was unanimously approved by the Burlington City Council.
Prior to coming to Burlington, del Pozo served with the NYPD for nearly two decades, rising to the rank of deputy inspector. While there, he commanded the 6th and 50th Precincts, and served overseas as an intelligence liaison to the Arab world and India (based in Jordan's capital, Amman), where he investigated terror attacks to see what lessons they offered for better protecting New York. He has received recognition for his commitment to innovation and reform.
Born in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of the New York borough of Brooklyn to a Cuban father and Jewish mother, del Pozo graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York then subsequently earned a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College. He then earned a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. While at the Kennedy School, he was a 9/11 Public Service Fellow, in recognition of the sacrifices made by first responders on that day. He also holds master's degrees in Criminal Justice and Philosophy from John Jay College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, respectively.
Citing the challenges of policing in the United States, del Pozo came to Burlington with a desire to improve police services in the city as a model for progress in the profession. After a Burlington police officer killed Phil Grenon, a man who attacked the police with knives at the end of a prolonged standoff, del Pozo began a program to improve outcomes in the use of force, piloting the Police Executive Research Forum's (PERF) new force guidelines and curriculum and introducing new tactics and technologies that avert physical confrontations. In January 2017, he travelled to Wisconsin with a small group of police chiefs to brief Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on PERF's efforts.
Opiate abuse and dependency have been a concern for the city and its police in light of the state of Vermont's wider struggles with opiate addiction. Burlington mayor Miro Weinberger directed del Pozo to create and implement a strategy for addressing its effects that focuses on public health rather than law enforcement and uses data and collaboration as cornerstones of the approach. Shortly after taking on the leadership of the Burlington Police Department, del Pozo directed all patrol officers to carry Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug. As a result of the mayor's request, del Pozo assisted the mayor's office with the creation of the city's Opioid Policy Coordinator. Based out of the police department, the coordinator vets police work for better public health outcomes and assists the city in formulating policies, directives and public engagements to help free the city from the grip of opioid abuse. Del Pozo has been known to personally meet with and try to help members of the community suffering from addiction. Despite these efforts, statistics show that deaths from opioid abuse continue to rise statewide in Vermont, including in Burlington.
An advocate for greater transparency in policing and government, del Pozo created a police data transparency portal where he discloses a range of raw and processed data about the work of the Burlington Police under a quote by legal philosopher Jeremy Waldron: "In a democracy, the accountable agents of the people owe the people an account of what they have been doing, and a refusal to provide this is simple insolence." He has spoken at the White House to an audience of police leaders on the value of the practice as part of efforts to implement the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. During his tenure, the police department has made concerted efforts to diversify its rank and file, with success.
In April 2017, del Pozo took to Facebook criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions while defending the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (or JAG). Essentially he argued against the Trump Administration's immigration policy stating "“I don’t care what a person’s immigration status is, I want them to call the police to report crimes in their neighborhood and not be scared of the consequences. We hold up our end of the deal by keeping routine immigration enforcement out of it.”
In May 2016, the PERF awarded del Pozo its Gary Hayes Memorial Award for his innovation and leadership. He is also an executive fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Police Foundation, a "national, independent non-profit organization dedicated to advancing policing through innovation and science."
Del Pozo frequently uses social media as a means of engagement and has used Facebook and Twitter to defend his officers from allegations of brutality and corruption that he asserts were unfounded. It has raised questions about the use of these platforms in policing and government.
Del Pozo married Sarah Carnevale in 2002. They moved to Burlington from the village of Cold Spring, New York. He wrote and directed a narrative short film, Sunday 1287, which screened at the Middlebury and Vermont International Film Festivals. The film was based on a crime he investigated while commanding a precinct in the New York borough of the Bronx. An outdoors enthusiast, he has written for publications about cycling and hiking.
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