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Deputy Chief Ensnared in Social Media Scandal Will Resign From Burlington Police

A person stands against the American flag and the Vermont state flag.
Elodie Reed
Deputy Chief Jan Wright, seen here Dec. 16, will resign from the Burlington Police Department, effective Feb. 21. Wright had several fake social media accounts, including ones she used to argue with critics of the department.

A senior police official in Burlington who used several fake social media accounts will step down from her post later this month.

According to a statement from the Burlington Police Department Monday evening, city government reached an agreement with Deputy Chief Jan Wright in which she’ll resign from the department effective Feb. 21.

In his own statement, Mayor Miro Weinberger said Wright’s action’s “damaged City relationships and eroded the public’s and my trust in her judgment beyond repair.”

More from VPR: Burlington Police Deputy Chief Disciplined For Fake Social Media Accounts [Jan. 29]

“Jan Wright completed nearly two decades of exemplary service for Burlington, and she has agreed to my request that her service to the City end at this time, for the benefit of the Department and of the City,” Weinberger said.

Wright will be on restricted duty until she resigns and will receive 22 weeks of severance pay after leaving the department. Wright made $105,960.44 in fiscal year 2018, according the city’s annual report.

Late last month, the department suspended Wright for eight days without pay after an internal investigation found Wright used her two fake accounts to make 10 posts that were "derogatory or personally attacking in nature."

But the city’s internal investigation did not review all the material posted on Wright’s anonymous accounts. Subsequent reporting by VTDigger found an additional 40 posts made by Wright, including one where Wright complained about the racial makeup of the Burlington Police Commission.

“The commission is now 6/7th black. Is this representative of the Burlington community?” Wright wrote in June, using the pseudonym “Abby Skyes.”

Then, Seven Days revealed Wright had a third anonymous account — a Twitter handle under the name "honeybadger159" — that city officials knew about, but didn’t include in the report because they said it wasn’t used to attack others.

More from VPR: City Council Confirms Interim Burlington Police Chief After Social Media Scandal [Jan. 8]

The Burlington Police Officer’s Association, the union representing Burlington Police officers, said its members support Wright’s decision to step down.

“Deputy Chief Wright’s actions exhibited a lack of [judgment], did not set a positive example for those [officers] she was tasked with leading, and were detrimental to the morale of BPOA members,” the union wrote in a statement.

Wright was briefly named interim police chief late last year, after former chief Brandon del Pozo resigned following his admission that he used fake social media accounts to taunt a critic online. Wright was removed from that post after admitting that she also had an anonymous social media account.

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