As cities and towns around the country wrestle with how to improve relationships between police and the public, New Haven received the first round of feedback from a taskforce the mayor started more than a year ago to evaluate the city's community policing strategies and the emphasis is on police communication with the community and transparency.
Last May, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp directed 24 members of the Community and Police Relations Taskforce to assess the New Haven police department’s community policing strategy to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
“It’s kind of sad that it had to get to this -- a young girl being slammed and to say, ‘Listen, we’re not going to accept this,’,” her grandmother, Ann Boyd, said.
Peace advocates, the chiefs of New Haven and Yale Police departments, members of the community and two members of the local clergy make up the taskforce, which asked the community for feedback while it reviewed the police department’s policies and procedures as they relate to police use of force, documentation of police activity and dialogue with civilians.
“I think it makes us a better police department by being open, by saying what could we do better, we don’t rest on our laurels, we’re not a department known for using force,” New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman said.
The task force also recommended an online database that outlines use of force protocols, a citizen’s right to record police activity and instances in which people feel an officer mistreated them.
“There should be a way that people can lodge complaints or concerns,” Leroy Williams, co-chair of the task force, said.