City Announces Next Police Chief

The City of South Burlington has reached a tentative agreement with Shawn Burke to be the next chief of police.  Burke will fill the position upon the retirement of Chief Trevor Whipple in January 2019.

“Shawn Burke has the exact profile that we were looking for in a Chief to follow in Trevor’s footsteps,” said Kevin Dorn, City Manager.  “We have one of the premier departments in the state, if not in New England, and we had the opportunity to go out and recruit the very best candidate for this job.” 

“Becoming South Burlington’s next Police Chief is a very exciting opportunity and I am honored by the confidence the City Manager and Council have placed in my candidacy.   I look forward to better understanding the community’s expectations of their police, what drives crime and disorder in the City, and leveraging the incredible talents of the organization in addressing those needs,” said Shawn Burke. 

Burke currently serves as deputy chief of operations for the Burlington Police Department.  A 21-year veteran of the department, he began his career as a police officer within the Uniform Service Bureau assigned to the Old North End patrol district.  Burke moved up through the organization rising progressively in rank, with significant experience in the Detective Service Bureau and the Uniform Service Bureau.  Serving on the Drug Task Force and later as its leader, Burke has been involved in various high-profile homicide investigations.

In his leadership position, Burke focused on instituting policies, initiatives and practices in alignment with the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing—which includes use of force reform with emphasis on sanctity of life, data driven policing enhancing legitimacy and effectiveness of operations, fair and impartial policing policy development, improving police services related to those suffering mental health crisis or homelessness, and a return to neighborhood policing.  This experience will allow him to continue the work that has already begun in the City.

“American policing is in a critical place; poised to respond to the opiate crisis, those with unmet social needs finding themselves in crisis, criminal justice reform, and numerous other dynamics.  I am committed to establishing meaningful relationships, enhancing the transparency of police operations, and building upon the trust the citizens of South Burlington have in their police force,” Burke says.

“In addition to his experience and qualifications for the job, Shawn is highly respected throughout the law enforcement community in Vermont,” said Dorn.  “One of the great things about choosing this local candidate is that he is very well known and it is easy to check reliable references. When joining our team, Shawn’s learning curve will be minimal, as he is already familiar with our organization and geography. You just don’t get those things when hiring someone from out-of-state,” continued Dorn.  “In the end, Shawn fit the desired criteria and I believe he will be an outstanding chief of police for South Burlington.”

Burke met all of the required qualifications for the position, which included a Vermont Level 3 Certification and executive level training—he is a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy.  Burke is also a graduate of Champlain College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Integrated Studies. 

So, what’s next? “There are still details to finalize Shawn’s hire, to include the very extensive background check that we perform for all of our senior officers,” said Dorn.  “So, while I am confident that this will all go well, at this point we must say that we have a tentative agreement for Shawn’s hire. Should all go as expected, we anticipate that Shawn will join our team on or around August 1.”