A Letter from the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely to the Vermont House Judiciary Committee in Support of the Fair & Impartial Policing Policy
February 7, 2017
House Committee on Judiciary
Vermont State House
115 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633-5301
Dear Judiciary Committee Members
I returned to Vermont today from El Salvador, and my ministry there with Cristosal, a Foundation incorporated in Vermont committed to advancing human rights in Central America. Thus, the topic of human rights is very much on my mind as I write this letter.
While I cannot be present in person with those from Migrant Justice and others offering their voices in support of fair and impartial policing in Vermont, I write to express my conviction that Vermont needs to have in place the strongest possible Policy on Fair and Impartial Policing. I support, without qualification, the full implementation of the entire Fair & Impartial Policing (FIP) policy in Vermont, by all agencies, without delay or compromise.
Today, more than ever, there is significant pressure from the federal immigration system, including pressures because of the recent Executive Orders from President Trump, now under judicial review. Those who are most vulnerable to the trauma of unwarranted seizures, arrests, imprisonment and deportation need to have the protections and assurances provided in the FIP policies.
Members of various immigrant communities in Vermont are not the only ones for whom these policies offer the pledge of fairness and impartial justice. Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native citizens of Vermont are likewise vulnerable to biased practices based on physical appearance and generalized assumptions that are often made with respect to non-white persons. Therefore, it is imperative that we not step back in any way from our commitment to the full implementation of these policies.
As a person of faith and a faith leader in Vermont, I bear witness to the strong biblical values of justice and dignity for all human beings. These are also Constitutional values. Fair and Impartial Policing is one of the strongest commitment the State of Vermont can make to embrace those principles for all its citizens, especially our neighbors of all creeds and colors.
With great respect and appreciation for your work,
The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely, Bishop of Vermont