EAST HAVEN -- The East Haven Police Department is much different now than it was six years ago.
"I think this is one of the greatest days in the history of the East Haven community," said Mayor Joseph Maturo (R-East Haven) during a Monday press conference.
The press conference held was to announce that the Town of East Haven and the Department of Justice have terminated any litigation as a result of the police department having exceeded the requirements of a 48 month agreement to implement effective and constitutional policing.
On December 11, 2011, the DOJ issued a civil findings letter alleging a pattern and practice of biased policing, unconstitutional searches and seizures and excessive force, all against Latinos. This led to the arrests of four East Haven police officers on January 24, 2012.
"After the courageous stance by Marcia Chacon, Jose Alberracin, Segundo Aguayza, and others, who said "no more" to racial profiling and police bullying of the Latino community, the East Haven Police Department is a model department for the state and country," said Father James Manship, who was the priest for these individuals and others, who attended St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven, where Manship was Pastor for 12 years, until June.
Manship even went so far as to video tape East Haven officers on the job, for which he was arrested and charged with interfering with a police officer in , among other charges.
Among the changes implemented by the East Haven Police Department in recent years:
- The complete revision of all of the department's policies and procedures.
- The development of approved testing procedures to ensure that all training is valid, reliable, fair and legally defensible.
"Our officers are some of the best trained, both locally and nationally, focusing not only on the mandatory subject areas, but also areas that include de-escalation, accountability and leadership," said East Haven Police Chief Ed Lennon.
"There is a need to remain vigilant, over the years to come, to ensure the changes in policy, procedure and training are ingrained into the EHPD culture," added Manship, who is now a priest at St. Rose of Lima Church in Meriden.
Monday was a proud day for officers, who were part of the East-Haven police force back when the DOJ issued this edict. Especially because of the department’s new found diversity.
"We have everyone from Spanish-speaking officers to an officer who speaks Arabic and we have Chinese," Lt. Joseph Murgo said proudly.
John Lugo, a member of New Haven based Unidad Latina en Accion, told FOX61 local Latinos appreciate the diversity of the department, but they say Mayor Maturo remains racially insensitive.