Nearly four years after allegations of widespread harassment of Latinos by East Haven cops came to light, the town has agreed to a set of sweeping reforms.
The reforms are laid out in a proposed settlement agreement released Tuesday by the federal Department of Justice. East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo has signed a letter of intent promising to abide by the proposed agreement. He planned to give a statement to the press at 2 p.m.
Under the proposed agreement, East Haven will undertake “comprehensive reforms” in seven “core areas,” including bias-free policing, use of force, civilian complaints, search and seizures, and community engagement.
Click here to read the proposed agreement.
The reforms are meant to address findings of widespread harassment and abuse of Latinos in East Haven, at the hands of local cops. The Department of Justice uncovered the abuses during an investigation begun on Sept. 30, 2009.
The allegations first came to light with the arrest of New Haven priest Father James Manship while he was filming cops in a Latino-owned grocery store in East Haven. Manship said he was gathering evidence of ongoing police harassment. Cops said he was interfering and creating a public disturbance. He was later cleared of those charges.
Manship’s arrest shined a media spotlight on the plight of Latinos in East Haven, who complained that police had been targeting them for unwarranted traffic stops and subjecting them to verbal and even physical abuse. The allegations have led to several civil suits, and criminal charges against four cops, one of whom has pleaded guilty.
The letter of intent lays out a timetable to begin implementing the proposed reforms by Nov. 15. If East Haven fails to do so, the feds may file a civil enforcement action.
In a released statement, Maturo said, “Constitutional policing remains the cornerstone of our Department’s goal of providing effective police protection. Entering into this agreement with the Department of Justice, and avoiding costly, prolonged, and protracted litigation, is in the best interests of the Town and the taxpayers. While the cost to implement the provisions of the agreement is expected to be significant, this agreement represents another step toward turning yesterday’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.”
Click here to read the letter of intent.