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‘We Need to Change Things': New Haven Leaders Eye Police Reforms

There are growing demands to rethink how cities are policed.

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After passionate protests since the death of George Floyd two weeks ago, those calls for change are prompting a hard look at how policing can be reformed in New Haven.

“Now is the time that we put actions behind our words. We all know it’s a problem. We need to change things,” said Tyisha Walker-Myers, New Haven Board of Alders president.

On Tuesday, a virtual conversation was held which included representatives of police, lawmakers, the faith community and others.

“Redressing the institutional racism against our communities everywhere and bring an end to the criminalization of black people,” said Dori Dumas, Greater New Haven NAACP president.

Some believe measures could be done quickly including reviewing use of force policy and strengthening rules when it comes to banning chokeholds and shooting at moving cars.

Others in the community think more radical steps – including defunding police – are needed.

“I do think we should think more deeply about that means. It’s not like tomorrow we can defund the police. But there may be different ways we approach policing,” said Mayor Justin Elicker (D – New Haven).

There are also calls to give greater powers to the Civilian Review Board.

As for police – they say many reforms being talked about nationally are already being done here, though they could be improved.

“We are here for our community, want to be here for our community. We want to do better,” said Assistant Chief Karl Jacobson of the New Haven Police Department.

The mayor says part of this could include rethinking the role of police and whether a call needs an officer or someone else to respond.

This is just the beginning of this process, which will also bring in community members.

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