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Friday, December 20, 2019

Vermont city goes through 2 police chiefs in a day amid social media controversies


BURLINGTON, VT – A whirlwind social media saga this week in Burlington, Vermont resulted in a police chief resigning and his appointed successor being removed from the office after both came under suspicion of using fake social media accounts.
Former police chief Brandon del Pozo resigned and former interim police chief Jan Wright was removed by Mayor Miro Weinberger. They both used fake social media accounts to take aim at local activist and vocal police critic Charles Winkleman earlier this year.
Winkleman is a frequent and outspoken critic of local government, including the Burlington police. del Pozo retweeted several of Winkleman’s tweets from the “@Winklewatchers” account, adding sarcastic and pointed commentary about Winkleman’s views and accusing him of being a troll, according to the independent Vermont newspaper Seven Days
This week's events happened in rapid succession on Monday after Weinberger announced del Pozo's resignation, learned of Wright's social media actions, and then swiftly removed her. 
Following the controversy, Jon Murad — a former deputy chief — has been appointed to serve as interim police chief. Murad has assured Weinberger that he doesn't have any fake accounts used to troll private citizens.
Among the revelations from the saga: Weinberger had learned of del Pozo's actions months ago. In response, del Pozo was placed on leave, and an internal investigation was opened.
Brandon del Pozo: A timeline of the incidents leading to his resignation
Dec. 13:Burlington Police Commission didn't know about fake Twitter account behind del Pozo's leave
The public began to learn about the saga when del Pozo, admitted to Seven Days, the city's alt-weekly paper, last week that he was behind a fake Twitter account used to troll Winkleman. Four days later, the mayor announced that del Pozo had resigned, and deputy Jan Wright would serve as interim chief. 
According to Seven Days, del Pozo, using the handle “@WinkleWatchers,” had anonymously antagonized Winkleman in a flurry of tweets on the Fourth of July. He sent at least 10 tweets and then deleted the account 45 minutes later, according to an internal department email obtained by the Burlington Free Press.
On Aug 2, the mayor announced del Pozo was on paid family and medical leave, though he didn’t say why. Critics say Weinberger had an obligation to report del Pozo’s actions to the public when he first learned of them, but he stands by his handling of the situation.

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