Two by two, standing at attention, the future of New Haven’s police force was sworn in today.
Taking an oath, 18 New Haven police cadets vowed to serve and protect the Elm City, joining an industry confronting public scrutiny.
“This is not only the start of your career but you are the first class in the New Haven Police force since the world has changed,” said Mayor Justin Elicker, addressing the cadets.
New Haven officials have seen what’s happened around the country. Protests against police brutality. Calls to defund the police. Problems that must now be addressed during training for young cadets like those sworn in today.
“We’re counting on you to change the future of this industry,” New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said to the cadets.
With calls for change, New Haven Police officials say training for this academy class may be different.
“It’s gonna be challenging for these officers to learn policing but also learn about communicating and connecting with the public,” said New Haven Police Commissioner Evelise Ribeiro.
That training will include social skill development teaching cadets how to interact with the public.
“They have to become part of the public. They’re not a separate entity, they are part of the citizenry of this town and this city,” added New Haven Police Commissioner Donald Walker.
Understanding the proper use of force is another area of emphasis. Earlier this month New Haven’s Board of Police Commissioners voted to fire an officer accused of using excessive force responding to an incident in December. Chief Reyes says the way arrests are made are the topic of ongoing conversation.
“It’s a fluid thing where we have to constantly look at policies, procedures and we need to look at our training to make sure that we’re having the outcomes that we want,” said Reyes.
Like cities around the nation, New Haven has heard the calls for change, setting the tone for this police academy class. Reyes says even though it might feel overwhelming for these recruits right now, he wants them to know, they’re part of a bigger team.
“It’s our job to get their minds right and make sure they understand that this responsibility, they’re not alone. We’re doing it together,” said Reyes.