- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

COLCHESTER, Vt. (AP) - Starting July 1, Vermont law enforcement agencies are going to be operating under a new bias-free policing policy designed to consolidate existing sets of guidelines into a single policy.

The creation of the Fair and Impartial Policing Policy was mandated by the Legislature.

The policy was established by a number of social justice groups whose members worked with the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, Vermont Public Radio (https://bit.ly/261QfG4) reported. It was motivated in part by the 2015 detention of a Mexican citizen who was a passenger in a car pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

“What we ended up with is a policy that was a little bit clearer on when officers could and couldn’t make inquiries about immigration status and there is a little bit of clarity offered in regards to when officers can participate in federal programs,” said Council Executive Director Rick Gauthier.

Will Lambek, of the group Migrant Justice, said the policy should prevent cases like the Mexican citizen who was detained in 2015.

“The role of Vermont law enforcement is to administer Vermont justice,” Lambek said.

Hinesburg Democratic Rep. Bill Lippert was a lead sponsor of the legislation that created the impartial policing policy.

“I frankly felt like they arrived at a pretty good compromise at this point, with a commitment to continue to look at the issues,” he said.

Lippert said the policy is part of a broader effort to address police bias.

“There’s a lot more that needs to happen and I think at the same time it’s fair to recognize that there are steps being taken in Vermont law enforcement, particularly state police, I would say, and some local,” he said.

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