HARTFORD--Building community trust is a top priority in many big city police departments here in Connecticut. It’s also one the police chief’s recent community outreaches that changed one mother's opinion of cops.
Diane Jones, of Hartford, is the leader of the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence, which is among the community agencies that will partner with local police and their communities to conduct conflict reconciliation training. But there was a time she never imagined working with police.
“I have children and in their teenage years they were beaten by the police,” said Jones, who is a longtime youth development professional.
It was a march to the Hartford Police Department, on Aug. 27, just days after a detective used a stun gun on a local teen, that changed Jones' opinion of the Hartford Police Department’s relationship with the community.
“When you have a police chief, who walks with participants in their time of grieving, and becomes a human being, regardless of his position as police chief, you've made some sort of progress,” said Jones.
She’s referring to Hartford’s chief of police, James Rovella, who told some of the 75 protesters he joined, "I apologize if I irritated anybody out there. Our intentions were honorable, that we walk with you and explain some of our thoughts. The partnerships that we rely on in this city are not just with you folks, they're with everybody in every neighborhood."
The video of New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo using a choke hold, which the medical examiner says killed Eric Garner in July, begs the question: could that happen in Connecticut?
“No, that would not be an accepted hold used by Connecticut law enforcement,” Chief Anthony Salvatore of the Cromwell Police Department.
Salvatore, once the head of the Connecticut Police Chiefs' Association, says that tactic hasn't been taught to officers in Connecticut in over 20 years. But, how does the public develop more trust in police?
“You try to be as transparent as possible when you have an incident to show the public what you're doing about certain types of incidents,” said Salvatore. “And I think that goes a long way to help your credibility.”