James Lyall

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Police weigh Trump order on military equipment

MONTPELIER — Heavy-duty military equipment, including armored vehicles and grenade launchers, may soon be available again to Vermont police departments after the Trump administration revoked an Obama-era ban on their distribution — but some municipal agencies say they aren’t interested. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to fully reinstate a program that allows police departments to obtain surplus military gear from the Pentagon. That program was substantially scaled back by President Barack Obama in January 2015 after police in Ferguson, Missouri, responded to civil unrest with military-style gear in 2014. “The recommendations issued pursuant to Executive Order 13688 do not reflect the policy of the executive branch,” Trump’s new order reads. “All executive departments and agencies are directed, as of the date of this order and consistent with Federal law, to cease implementing those recommendations and, if necessary, to take prompt action to rescind any rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing them.”

The Obama administration, after review by a working group, created a list of prohibited equipment that would no longer available to police. Continue Reading →

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Scott signs racial justice bill into law

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott signed legislation into law Wednesday that looks to advance racial justice reforms in the state. The bill, H.308, which was passed by lawmakers earlier this month, aims to address racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice system. It creates a new, 13-member advisory panel within the office of the attorney general that will provide recommendations to address racial disparities in both the criminal and juvenile justice system around the state. Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office and the Human Rights Commission are tasked with developing a strategy to address racial disparities within various state systems, including education, labor and employment, housing, healthcare and economic development. Finally, the new law requires the Criminal Justice Training Council to review the state’s fair and impartial policing policing to ensure it is in compliance with federal law. Continue Reading →

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