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Public Statements

Issue Position: Criminal Justice

Issue Position

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Tackling the Tough Cases

Under Bill Sorrell's leadership the Office has prosecuted over two-dozen homicides from every corner of Vermont, including some of the most infamous and challenging cases. These prosecutions include violent killings of young children, women killed in acts of domestic violence, murder motivated by sexual assault, and drug related killings. Bill has also tackled difficult cases involving the sexual assault of children, and in the Abate case, won the conviction of an orthopedic surgeon for criminal misconduct with a patient.

Bias-Free Policing Policy

In 2010 Attorney General Sorrell announced his Bias Free Policing Policy. The policy recognizes Vermont's growing diversity and emphasizes that officers cannot consider race, ethnicity or other personal criteria when undertaking a law enforcement action.
Sorrell urged all law enforcement agencies to adopt the policy and his recommendation was echoed by the Law Enforcement Advisory Board in 2011. In 2012 the legislature passed a law requiring that every law enforcement agency adopt a bias-free policing policy that include the "essential elements" contained within the Vermont State Police and Attorney General's policies.

Law Enforcement Training

Attorney General Bill Sorrell, in conjunction with the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council and mental health advocates established a training program for law enforcement officers in their interactions with persons exhibiting mental health conditions. The goal is to train every law enforcement officer in Vermont. To date hundreds of officers have been trained. The work of the Attorney General's Office was recognized in the 2011-2012 legislative session when additional funds were allocated to continue the basic training and to develop and offer advanced training for officers.

Report and Recommendation on Use Of Tasers

In response to the increasing use of tasers as a law enforcement tool, in 2008 Attorney General Sorrell issued a report recommending that all law enforcement agencies have written protocols governing the use of tasers, including a reporting obligation when a taser is deployed and a process to review the appropriateness of each deployment.

Officer Involved Shootings & Reviews of Use of Deadly Force

Since assuming the role of Attorney General, Bill Sorrell has made police accountability a top priority. In furtherance of that goal, the Attorney General's Office reviews every case in which a law enforcement officer fires his or her weapon at an individual or uses other means of deadly force. Since 1997 the AGO has carefully and thoroughly reviewed thirty such cases. When necessary a grand jury has been convened to decide conflicting factual accounts.

Prosecutions Involving Law Enforcement Officers

Bill Sorrell has prosecuted more law enforcement officers for criminal conduct than any prosecutor in Vermont's history. Since becoming Attorney General, Bill Sorrell has prosecuted twenty-three law enforcement officers for criminal conduct including lewd conduct with a child, domestic violence, assault, false pretenses, theft, neglect of duty, burglary and DUI.

Holding Public Officials Accountable

Bill Sorrell takes violations of the public trust seriously -- in the last several years his office has prosecuted a police chief for drug related crimes and embezzlement, a sheriff in connection with fraudulently obtaining a loan from a fellow sheriff, another sheriff for larceny and neglect of duty and a town clerk for embezzling thousands of tax payer dollars.

Protecting Vermont's Children From Sexual Predators

Bill Sorrell has always been a leader when it comes to protecting Vermont's children. Bill was instrumental in pushing through legislation to establish specialized investigative units in every county to deal specifically with child sexual abuse. Over the last two years Bill has expanded this fight to predators on the Internet, successfully lobbying the legislature for money to increase the number of investigators to patrol the Internet to identify offenders that download and share images of child pornography. One such investigator will be housed within the Attorney General's Office and will be dedicated solely to this effort.

Battling Vermont's Drug Problem

During his tenure as Attorney General, Bill Sorrell has been battling Vermont's drug problem on several fronts. Bill has dedicated two prosecutors, who have handled hundreds of cases, to work directly with the Vermont Drug Task Force. The goal is to ferret out drug dealers who invade our communities and sell street drugs like crack, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and meth.

Bill has also focused on the increasing challenge of prescription drug abuse using a number of strategies including the release of the film, "When Healing Hands Harm", warning of the temptation and prevalence of drug diversion in health care settings. The film, which has been distributed across Vermont, shows actual cases in which health care workers were caught diverting pain medications from terminally ill patients. Bill continues to aggressively prosecute offenders who seek to make a profit off the addiction of others.


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