The Vermont Statutes Online
NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.
NOTE: The online version of the Vermont Statutes does NOT yet include the actions of the 2023 legislative session. The 2023 updates should be available by the end of October.
Subchapter 002 : UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT(Cite as: 20 V.S.A. § 2401)
§ 2401. Definitions
As used in this subchapter:
(1) “Category A conduct” means:
(A) A felony.
(B) A misdemeanor that is committed while on duty and did not involve the legitimate performance of duty.
(C) Any of the following misdemeanors, if committed off duty:
(i) simple assault, second offense;
(ii) domestic assault;
(iii) false reports and statements;
(iv) driving under the influence, second offense;
(v) violation of a relief from abuse order or of a condition of release;
(vii) false pretenses;
(ix) prostitution or soliciting prostitution;
(x) distribution of a regulated substance;
(xi) simple assault on a law enforcement officer; or
(xii) possession of a regulated substance, second offense.
(2) “Category B conduct” means gross professional misconduct amounting to actions on duty or under authority of the State, or both, that involve willful failure to comply with a State-required policy or substantial deviation from professional conduct as defined by the law enforcement agency’s policy or if not defined by the agency’s policy, then as defined by Council policy, and shall include:
(A) sexual harassment involving physical contact or misuse of position;
(B) misuse of official position for personal or economic gain;
(C) excessive use of force under authority of the State, first offense;
(D) biased enforcement;
(E) use of electronic criminal records database for personal, political, or economic gain;
(F) placing a person in a chokehold;
(G) failing to intervene and report to a supervisor when the officer observes another officer placing a person in a chokehold or using excessive force.
(3) “Category C conduct” means any allegation of misconduct pertaining to Council processes or operations, including:
(A) intentionally exceeding the scope of practice for an officer’s certification level;
(B) knowingly making material false statements or reports to the Council;
(C) falsification of Council documents;
(D) intentional interference with Council investigations, including intimidation of witnesses or misrepresentations of material facts;
(E) material false statements about certification status to a law enforcement agency;
(F) knowing employment of an individual in a position or for duties for which the individual lacks proper certification;
(G) intentional failure to conduct a valid investigation or file a report as required by this subchapter; or
(H) failure to complete annual in-service training requirements.
(4) “Effective internal affairs program” means that a law enforcement agency does all of the following:
(A) Complaints. Accepts complaints against its law enforcement officers from any source.
(B) Investigators. Assigns an investigator to determine whether an officer violated an agency rule or policy or State or federal law.
(C) Policies. Has language in its policies or applicable collective bargaining agreement that outlines for its officers expectations of employment or prohibited activity, or both, and provides due process rights for its officers in its policies. These policies shall establish a code of conduct and a corresponding range of discipline.
(D) Fairness in discipline. Treats its accused officers fairly, and decides officer discipline based on just cause, a set range of discipline for offenses, consideration of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and its policies’ due process rights.
(E) Civilian review. Provides for review of officer discipline by civilians, which may be a selectboard or other elected or appointed body, at least for the conduct required to be reported to the Council under this subchapter.
(5) “Unprofessional conduct” means Category A, B, or C conduct.
(6)(A) “Valid investigation” means an investigation conducted pursuant to a law enforcement agency’s established or accepted procedures.
(B) An investigation shall not be valid if:
(i) the agency has not adopted an effective internal affairs program;
(ii) the agency refuses, without any legitimate basis, to conduct an investigation;
(iii) the agency intentionally did not report allegations to the Council as required;
(iv) the agency attempts to cover up the misconduct or takes an action intended to discourage or intimidate a complainant; or
(v) the agency’s executive officer is the officer accused of misconduct.
(7) “Chokehold” means the use of any maneuver on a person that employs a lateral vascular neck restraint, carotid restraint, or other action that applies any pressure to the throat, windpipe, or neck in a manner that limits the person’s breathing or blood flow. (Added 2017, No. 56, § 1, eff. July 1, 2018; amended 2019, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2020; 2021, No. 27, § 5, eff. Oct. 1, 2021.)