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Voices / Letters from readers

A discussion about police and guns

Brattleboro Common Sense (BCS) and the Brattleboro Police Department have discussed the pros and cons of patrols without sidearms. BCS first proposed the practice to Chief Michael Fitzpatrick in 2017.

In a meeting Oct. 8, consulting economist Adam Marchesseault and I presented research findings that support the safety of weaponless patrols, and the chief consented to our group interviewing officers and the department’s use-of-force instructors to hear their thoughts and concerns.

In some places, officers rely on backup from sharpshooters or have sidearms nearby in their cruisers. A strong majority of officers in the United Kingdom favor patrolling without sidearms because they feel the trust of the public would be lost if they carried these weapons.

Brattleboro Common Sense applauds the professional awards and reputation of the chief and his officers. This is not an attempt to correct any fault of the Brattleboro police. It is a basic research project to advance the science of law enforcement, and we commend Chief Fitzgerald on his open-mindedness in participating. He represents the best of Brattleboro’s innovative spirit and social conscience.

Kurt Daims

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Originally published in The Commons issue #533 (Wednesday, October 23, 2019). This story appeared on page D3.

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