East Haven Police Leave History of Discrimination Behind

After years of scandal and allegations of racial discrimination, East Haven officials said the town's police department has turned the page to a new chapter. 

The Department of Justice agrees that the East Haven police force has made necessary changes to its policies and practices. 

Six years ago, a federal investigation found there to be a pattern of Latino racial profiling and civil rights violations by East Haven police officers. 

On Monday, the town's mayor and police chief said the department has corrected those flaws, restored trust in the town and embraced community policing. 

The agreement the Town of East Haven entered with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to implement constitutional policing practices is over. 

"The conclusion of the consent decree does not mean that the department's efforts are over," East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo said. 

  • The Department of Justice began investigating the East Haven Police Department in September 2009.
  • After finding a pattern of discrimination and mistreatment of Latinos, the FBI arrested four officers in a pre-dawn raid in January 2012.
  • In October 2012, the town and DOJ entered a consent decree to address the civil rights violations.
  • Last week, a federal judge terminated the consent decree.

"The last five years has created a positive and monumental transformation within the department," East Haven Police Chief Ed Lennon said.

In addition to retraining, revising policies and meeting with stakeholders in the Latino community, East Haven police said they've tried to hire more bi-lingual officers. 

"We give points for people with foreign language skills and obviously one of the most important languages that we need here is Spanish," East Haven Lieutenant David Emerman said.

During the agreement with the DOJ in 2014, East Haven police became one of the first departments on the shoreline to outfit officers with body cameras. 

The federal judge also dismissed any pending litigation between the town and the DOJ. 

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