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East Haven Police Misconduct: Feds, Town Reach Proposed Settlement Agreement (DOC)

The Justice Department today announced the town of East Haven "memorialized its intention" to enter into a settlement agreement to "resolve the department’s civil investigation of allegations" into the East Haven Police Department.

Update at 1:15 p.m.

East Haven Mayor Maturo issued a press releast this afternoon regarding today's announcement that the town and Justice Dept have reached a proposed settlement agreement. The full release can be found here: http://patch.com/A-yStc.

Original Post

The following is a press release from the United States Department of Justice. The signed letter of intent has been attached to this article.

The Justice Department today announced that the town of East Haven, Conn., memorialized its intention to enter into a settlement agreement to resolve the department’s civil investigation of allegations that the East Haven Police Department (EHPD) engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination against Latinos on account of their race, color or national origin.

The proposed agreement also resolves allegations that EHPD engaged in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, unconstitutional searches and seizures and retaliation against persons who witnessed police misconduct or criticized EHPD’s practices.

Joseph Maturo Jr., the mayor of East Haven, outlined in a letter of intent a schedule to obtain necessary approvals from other town officials to enter into a binding agreement that will lead to broad institutional changes in EHPD’s policies and practices.

The proposed agreement builds on reforms initiated by the town and is intended to strengthen the community’s trust in EHPD.  Once fully executed by the town, the proposed agreement will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut for approval.

“We are pleased that Mayor Maturo has made a clear commitment to rebuild the East Haven Police Department by agreeing to enter into a court-enforceable agreement that will result in constitutional and effective policing for all persons who live, work and travel in East Haven,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “The proposed agreement will serve as a blueprint for sustainable reform that will provide the police department with the necessary tools and guidance it needs to restore trust from all segments of the East Haven community.”

“There is no place for invidious discrimination by law enforcement officers, and today’s commitment from the mayor signals a new day for the East Haven Police Department,” said David B. Fein, the U.S. Attorney for the District Connecticut.  “Once the proposed agreement is in place, the men and women who courageously serve on the police department will get the support they need to carry out their duties in a lawful and respectful manner, while ensuring strong public safety for the people of East Haven.”

The proposed agreement provides for comprehensive reforms in seven core areas and provides for a joint compliance expert who will independently assess EHPD’s implementation of the agreement.

The seven core areas are:

    •    Biased-free policing, including measures on mandatory training, collection and analysis of data on police encounters, development of a meaningful language access plan, notification to consulates when foreign nationals are detained and steps to promote biased-free policing in EHPD’s hiring, promotion and performance assessment processes;
    •    Use of force, including the development of current policies on use of force and measures that provide for comprehensive training, consistent force reporting and thorough force reviews and investigations by supervisors and the internal affairs officer;
    •    Searches and seizures, including the development of up-to-date policies and measures on applying for search warrants, documenting consent searches, notifying supervisors of felony arrests and other “contempt-of-cop” situations, inspecting detainees for injuries, and preserving individuals’ First Amendment rights to observe and record police activity;
    •    Policies and training, including measures to ensure that officers  and supervisors have sufficient guidance to carry out their law enforcement responsibilities in a lawful, effective and ethical manner;
    •    Civilian complaints, internal investigations and discipline, including measures to ensure that all allegations of officer misconduct are received and thoroughly investigated and that officers who engage in misconduct are held accountable by a disciplinary system that is fair and consistent;
    •    Supervision and management, including steps that provide for close and effective supervision to assist officers in carrying out their duties in lawful manner and systems that allow supervisors to identify, correct and prevent misconduct; and
    •    Community engagement and oversight, including measures to create robust partnerships with all segments of the East Haven community, disseminate public information on reforms and policing activities, and solicit feedback on the relationship between EHPD and the community.

In September 2009, the Justice Department opened a pattern or practice investigation into allegations that EHPD officers engaged in discriminatory traffic enforcement, use of excessive force, and unconstitutional searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws.

In December 2011, the department completed its investigation and issued a letter finding reasonable cause to believe that EHPD engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination against Latinos and other misconduct.  The investigation was conducted jointly by the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.

The full text of the 2011 Findings Letter, the Letter of Intent and the proposed settlement agreement are available at www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/findsettle.php.

For more information on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt.

Lise Cavallaro October 24, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I hope it's over. Would like to start to see more positive news.
Luigi (the original) October 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
It's understandable just how easy it is for truly uneducated, ignorant people to misperceive everything they hear or read. When these "folk" can't string together a thought not filled with incorrect spelling and broken sentences. So at once it becomes both laughable and annoying when these "folks" share their skewed and biased opinions upon the rest of us and we are left scratching our heads. Not because of any revelation or truth, but because the shame that in a free society we are forced to sift through the pondering of such nonsense. I frankly find the postings from ASmirth, Luigi Jones, CAjones and Flowers and others in that vein, as least amusing because none of them claim to tell the truth. However when ill conceived characters such as "the good ole country boy" continue to suggest improprieties and make accusations that are unsubstantiated, all while using "cute" little names for all the players, it's outrageous and boorish. Is there any wonder then WHY people create more "character" names and vent their frustration?
Julie Weisberg October 24, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Patrick: The investigation is still active and ongoing, according to U.S. Attorney Fein. He noted that in the press release about Officer Zullo's guilty plea (http://patch.com/A-yT4G). And they are still asking people who may have additional information to contact the U.S. Justice Department. Just an FYI.
Maggie Mae October 25, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Do you have nothering better to do? You lead a very shallow life!
Julie Weisberg November 20, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Everyone: The Justice Dept and the town jointly filed the settlement agreement in court today. You can find the release about the filing, as well as a copy of the agreement itself, here: http://patch.com/A-zG8x. Just an FYI.

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