Burlington businesses participate in de-escalation training

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Some Burlington business owners are taking safety into their own hands by participating in de-escalation training.

The ongoing safety conversation in downtown Burlington is prompting business owners to take action. Colin Hilliard, director of advocacy at the Burlington Business Association, said Wednesday’s de-escalation training was something they had requested.

“The pandemic has really exposed that a lot of people are struggling right now, so it’s up to the community to come together and try to do our best,” Hilliard said.

These training sessions are carried out in partnership with clinicians from the Howard Center. They look at things like risk factors, body language, and physical limitations that business owners need to be aware of to prevent situations from escalating.

“This is really the purpose of the training, what are some things you can do yourself? And maybe realize in situations that someone is not doing well and understand the resources available, ”Hilliard continued.

John George-Wheeler, co-owner of Ski Rack Inc. attended Wednesday’s training with four of his employees. He says he hopes this training will have an impact beyond the sales floor.

“We are all finding out together and simultaneously companies are responsible for our companies, but also for our own neighbors,” said George-Wheeler.

However, some people who profit from Church Street say business owners could be overwhelmed.

“I think it’s not a bad thing, I guess, to have some knowledge, but being primarily responsible for these climbing issues is asking a lot,” said Megan Baille, a visitor from Florida.

A more local voice, Jean-Paul Gagnon, who lives in Essex Junction, said “Business owners should spend their time looking after their businesses and their customers. The police should create a safe environment in the market.

George-Wheeler said creating a better downtown environment is a process and won’t happen overnight. “It’s really important for us, again, to take it step by step, learn from each other, learn what works, improve what doesn’t and keep moving forward. that’s the only way we can go.

We reached out to Mayor Miro Weinberger’s office to ask what he thought of the business owners doing this. A spokesperson responded with last week’s statement on the ambassadorial program, but did not address de-escalation training.

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