The Rev. Boise Kimber let the front-desk sergeant at police headquarters Thursday know he needed to be buzzed in.
“I’m here for Compstat,” Kimber (pictured in file photo) said, referring to the weekly data-sharing meeting on the fourth floor that has become a hallmark of New Haven’s community-policing program. The meeting had started 15 minutes earlier.
The sergeant pressed a button for the intercom.
“The Compstat meeting has been closed to the public,” he informed the politically influential Newhallville reverend.
“I’m Rev. Kimber,” Kimber said.
“The meeting is closed to the public,” the officer repeated as other barred members of the public looked on.
Kimber looked baffled. Instead of joining the handful of people who had been informed prior to the start of the 10 a.m. meeting that it would be closed to the public, Kimber made a phone call.
“This is Kimber,” he said. “I’m here.”
A few minutes later, a different officer came downstairs to escort Kimber upstairs to the meeting.
The rest of the public wasn’t as lucky as Kimber Thursday. For the first time in over three years, police officials kicked members of the community out of the Compstat meeting after a second consecutive week of confrontation with outspoken activist, Barbara Fair.
“I thought the meeting was closed to the public,” Barbara Fair said to the officer escorting Kimber upstairs Thursday. “Isn’t he the public too?”
The officer escorting Kimber said she was instructed to let the pastor up, but no one else.
Fair had attended last week’s Compstat, too. She spoke up about insults she said were made against activists at a March 27 rally at City Hall . (The police union called the rally, pictured in video, to protest the mayor’s decision to ask the chief to place on desk duty an officer pending conclusion of an internal investigation of his handling of the arrest of the 15-year-old girl.) Officers responded that they had investigated those insults and learned that they came from demonstrators who were not cops; they also noted that Fair’s group of protesters insulted police.
When Fair returned for this Thursday’s meeting, Chief Esserman asked her to leave because his command staff had informed him that she had disrupted the previous week’s meeting. (Esserman had not been present the week before.) Fair said she was not disruptive and refused to leave unless the rest of the public had to leave, too. Esserman then closed the meeting, ordering out anyone who was not law enforcement.
He said later that future meetings will remain open to the public unless Fair returns.
The incident put the public Compstat concept to a test: New Haven is unlike other departments in trusting the public and press to attend these discussions of pending cases. How much of the public can be brought in while maintaining the purpose? Many people, including police critics, have attended. But Fair is the city’s most outspoken critic of the police department. Her presence changed the equation, according to officers present, who view the meetings as intended to get work done as opposed to conducting public debates. To Fair, her presence tested the department’s ability to accept criticism.
“I’m Closing This Meeting”
Fair’s daughter, Holly Tucker, recorded this video of Esserman and Fair discussing the closure of the meeting before she left the room. Including this excerpt:
Esserman: Unfortunately you were not proper here. This is a serious meeting we’re having about a homicide. And I’m asking you to please leave with me ... I’ll meet with you now downstairs.
Fair: I have a right to be at the meeting. It’s a public meeting.
Fair: Unless I’m under arrest, I will keep sitting here.
Esserman: Barbara, I’m asking you to please leave.
Fair: I’m asking you to please leave me alone. I’m at a public meeting.
Esserman: No Barbara, you’re at a police department meeting in a police department meeting.
Fair: A city building.
Esserman: I’m not going to let you stay. I’m going to cancel it. I’m going to close the meeting to discuss the homicide, which is more important.
After more back and forth, Esserman declared: “All right. I’m closing this meeting to the public unfortunately today. So all government officials can stay. The public’s going to have to leave.”
“You are so ridiculous,” Holly Tucker retorted.
“A Time And A Place”
“He closed the meeting to prevent me from speaking out,” said Fair (pictured outside police headquarters afterwards). “And he talks about community policing, but you can’t say anything except what he wants to hear.”
She likened the chief’s decision to close Thursday’s meeting to his threat to shut down a Yale football game when an usher asked for his ticket.
“There’s a time and place to have frank conversations. I’m always available to meet with people. In fact, I had tea with them last week,” Esserman responded. “People have access to me easily.”
“This is not the time or the place” for those debates, he said. “We’re doing serious work in that meeting. For someone to show up who has never shown up in the three years that we’ve had that meeting to be disruptive, is not the place.”
Esserman said Kimber was allowed into the meeting because he was an invited speaker making a presentation.
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posted by: RHeerema on April 9, 2015 1:39pm
Can the New Haven Independent get access to a copy of Rev. Kimber’s presentation? Is it related to the homicide they were slated to discuss?
posted by: southwest on April 9, 2015 2:03pm
Barbara Fair, please stop being so combatted and insulting to others…because you have always been the biggest bullie from years and years ago…your creditbilty has been depleted for a long time now…you have some great ideas and agenda at times but then you go on your tirerades of insulting everyone and when you do that, you actually loose momentous with your mission statement…it’s time for you to reinvent your plan in a more positive tone..and just maybe others will listen to you !! Just saying Barbara listen a little bit more to others and your task can be completed !!!
posted by: Esbey on April 9, 2015 2:06pm
Barbara Fair is messing up a good thing. It is not remotely true that random members of the public are allowed to wander into all administrative meetings of city government and demand to set the agenda. You can’t do it at the private meetings of the parks department or the school district, either. The government would just grind to a halt if that happened.
Being a good citizen has responsibilities as well as rights.
posted by: fountainst on April 9, 2015 2:41pm
Can someone from the Fire Marshal’s office verify the capacity of that room that over 70 people are jammed into?
posted by: KatieP on April 9, 2015 2:42pm
Just because I pay $11 for a movie ticket, I am not entitled to talk loudly to my friends during the movie, and disrupt it for others.
Same principle applies here.
Sounds like Ms. Fair needs to respect the intention of the NHPD to allow the public to come in and observe the meetings, and save her criticisms for another forum.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 9, 2015 3:17pm
Snake-Oil Being sold.Compstat is a scam.You need to read the history on it.
The trouble with Compstat: Pressure on NYPD commanders endangered the integrity of crime stats.
There’s a difference between being a responsible constructive citizen interested in being involved in her community, and a disruptive gadly with a personal grudge against police who uses every incident and opportunity to act out that grudge. Unfortunately, by opening up law enforcement meetings to the “public” you get both these sorts. Looks like Barbara Fair is ruining it for everybody.
posted by: KatieP on April 9, 2015 4:17pm
WOW. Just watched the video also. Barbara and Holly Fair were out of line. Way out of line. They were argumentative, entitled, and forced that meeting to be closed to everyone else. That was embarrassing.
posted by: Ex-NHPD on April 9, 2015 4:25pm
For someone who has been a Police Executive for over 20 years, Esserman sure hasn’t learned much.
I have said from the first time Compstat was rolled out that for the meeting to be truly effective, the public should not be present. Compstat meetings must be an open exchange of Law Enforcement Sensitive information, that clearly should not be discussed in front of non Law Enforcement members. This should also preclude most City Department workers and the Street Outreach Workers.
Is there anyone vetting those who come as “the Public” and hear such sensitive information? Does the NHPD know who has been attending their meetings? Criminal enterprises don’t need a mole inside the NHPD; just send a representative(s) to the weekly meeting.
In the video, Esserman speaks about how accessible he is to Fair. Again, he has learned nothing over the years. He feels he has bent over backwards and always been available to her, but he will never be able to make her happy. She will always keep wanting, and demanding, more.
It felt to me that his going on and on about how much he and Fair work together (and go out for tea) was a passive/agressive attempt to diminish her reputation in her circle of activists.
Esserman failed when he was unable to maintain his “Closed to the Public” order by letting Kimber attend. He should have stood his ground and told the Reverand that there was not a Kimber Exception. It was either closed to the public or it wasn’t; allowing Kimber in showed it was not closed to the public. A prime example of lack of leadership skills.
Esserman could have solved this issue from the beginning by allowing the public to attend the beginning of Compstat Meetings where general NHPD items, which are not Law Enforcement Sensitive, could be addressed. The public would then be excused and Compstat continue with the sensitive items.
I kept waiting for Hassett to jump in and show off his verbal judo and conflict resolution skills.
posted by: Honest in New Haven on April 9, 2015 5:01pm
unfortunately Barbara Fair is an example of someone who has lost credibility and effectiveness as an advocate because the only dialogue she knows is confrontation and tirades. It got old a long time ago, so even on matters where she is right and has a valid point, the very mention of her name makes eyes roll. It’s too bad.
posted by: citysavior on April 9, 2015 6:18pm
so why is Barbra Fair such a big story?? Is the media giving her a platform? are 3/5ths and Barbra Fair the same person? Did Barbra Fair reach out to Sinjay Patel’s Family expressing her sympathy? probably not because it won’t fit her agenda.Now that the Officer has been cleared and returned to the street Fair is no longer in the news. Until today’s little protest. Please stop giving this individual the time of day her actions are hurting our community not helping.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on April 9, 2015 7:00pm
Why did Esserman want to bar Fair from at meeting at which she was NOT being disruptive? I watched the video and she did not interrupt anything and was not loud.
Esserman cited her behavior at a previous meeting that he did not attend.
Huh? He was a week late in acting.
Also, letting Kimber in while barring the public looks SO bad.
Some people may not like Fair’s tactics, but making nice all the time doesn’t work. I hope we don’t have to wait for someone to be shot while fleeing a traffic stop to realize the treatment of civilians is an urgent matter.
posted by: eastshore on April 9, 2015 8:17pm
One question for Barbara Fair : Would you want anyone who detracts from the topic of the day to attend a compstat meeting if the topic of the day happened to be someone dear to you who was brutally and senselessly murdered while working at a convenience store? I’m all for transparency, but not if it allows mud to cloud the vision of an investigation into a murder committed by 2 coldblooded individuals who are more than likely still in our city.
posted by: Scamp on April 9, 2015 8:49pm
Dear Mr. Or Ms. FacChec,
You state that Barbara Fair was prohibited from attending a meeting the subject of which she knows “all about.” What does that mean? The Chief stated repeatedly that the primary matter at hand was Monday’s murder at the convenience store. I in no way mean to imply anything with my question, but your assertion is striking to me in that I simply don’t understand what you mean. Would you please be willing to clarify? Thank you.
posted by: Hill South on April 9, 2015 9:36pm
I’ve been to Comstat Meetings at NHPD in the past and they have NEVER been public meetings. These are meeting of laws enforcement offices (NHPD, State Police, DOC, FBI, LCI, school security, street outreach, block watchers and citizens ... where information is shared by and with law enforcement. It’s never been a public meeting as ALL are not invited nor allowed ... if you are known to be involved in criminal activity you are not able to attend; if you are known to be ‘involved’ with someone participating in criminal activity you are not invited; if you are a member of a gang you are not allowed, if you are on parole or probation you don’t get in. And if you are not Law Enforcement or are making an approved presentation or if you aren’t invited to have remarks, then other than introducing yourself in the beginning you don’t participate in the discussions. This is and was not the time or place for Barbara Fair (or ANY non-law enforcement person) to bring any topic for discussion. And unfortunately for us citizens who value the information presented about the criminal activity in the city as it helps US to keep our neighborhoods safe - she has messed it up ... all for the selfish purpose of promoting HER agenda. Even though I couldn’t attend today’s COMSTAT (as a member of the public) I am glad the Chief closed it and shut her down. That’s the Police Dept. It is a Police meeting. He is the Chief. Invite him to tea and leave COMSTAT alone.
posted by: NHPS Teacher on April 10, 2015 11:25am
Whether or not Barbara Fair or Boise Kimber were attempting to discuss the slated topic is irrelevant.
The more important issue is that these ‘public’ meetings exclude the people that they are supposed to be ‘serving’.
It doesn’t seem fair that some racist, white people are able to attend, while a citizen passionately concerned for her community is banned. Oh, and she’s happens to be Black, along with most of the people she serves.
All the white commenters here need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. How did you get your job? Where do you live? Where were you born? Why are you so defensive? Pat yourself on the back if you are truly exceptional. Otherwise, try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes without being willfully obtuse.
posted by: Marion on April 10, 2015 11:45am
@careerpanther: Gee, I didn’t know Boise Kimber was white…
posted by: CityWatcher on April 10, 2015 12:56pm
She and she alone should’ve been banned for disruptive behavior. Members of the public should not have their ability to attend altered because one person can’t act civilized. Esserman showed poor decision making here.
posted by: Hill Resident on April 10, 2015 1:21pm
Excuse me CareerPanther but I don’t know how you came to the conclusion that all the commenters here are white .. because I am not. I am a black female who was born in and has lived my entire 60+ years in New Haven, work (same well-paying job for 20+ years) in New Haven in a job that I attained because of my skills and tenacity, who is passionately concerned about my community whom I serve ... on the streets AND at City Hall. So let’s get that off the table. Having an opinion about a matter does not make one being defensive, but assuming that I can’t be Black and have an opinion different than another Black person is offensive. The Compstat meetings have never been public meetings. They are meetings held by NHPD to share law enforcement information. It is not nor has it ever been set up for dialogue with the public which Ms. Fair apparently attempted to engage in last week. And since she has never been to a Compstat meeting before, it would be safe to assume that she returned this week to do the same thing ... be disruptive. As members of the public (in good legal standing) have been invited (and up until now welcome) to attend this meeting, she and others could be uninvited. Now if the Chief had her escorted out, this would have given her the opportunity to cry ‘abuse of power’ and ‘police brutality’ and ‘violation of citizen rights to free speech’. But again ... THIS IS NOT A PUBLIC MEETING and he did what he felt was right by closing the meeting to all members of the public. So because of Barbara Fair’s self righteous aggrandizement, the rest of the public there were denied information that may have allowed them to assist the police in apprehending those involved in the heinous murder of one of OUR FELLOW citizens, leaving a wife without a husband, and an unborn child without a father ... and HE was not white either. But that has nothing to do with this. It’s about B Fair being at the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. She was just wrong!
posted by: citysavior on April 10, 2015 1:50pm
The Chief was right its a police department meeting. The Chief runs the meeting in his absence like last week a Asst.Chief is running the meeting. That Asst.Chief may haven been hesitant to throw her out on her butt. Bravo to Chief Essermen who did not put up with Barbra Fairs Sharpton type behavior. A little clue to Fair research what your standing is prior to trying to make it sound like you have legal standing by using your old worn out saying am i under arrest. Any body else getting tired of Fairs counter productive behavior?? Our city deserves better.
posted by: NHPS Teacher on April 10, 2015 2:04pm
Thank you for your response, but my words were directed at racist white commenters, especially the ones that are trying to do their best they can to prevent any naysayers from calling them out in a private meeting. Sounds like you don’t fall into that category, so you would’ve been eligible to ignore my comment.
But since I have your attention HillResident, how should Barbara Fair make her voice heard? Do you think “self righteous aggrandizement” was her first course of action? Or was it the result of exhausting all other avenues with little to no results? Curious to hear your thoughts.
posted by: Marion on April 10, 2015 2:32pm
@CareerPanther: Your ridiculous race-based insults were put down rather forcefully by HillResident. Bravo to HillResident. There is nothing in the comments to this article that even remotely supports your defaming any of these posters as white racists. You don’t curry much credibility with such attacks.
posted by: westville man on April 10, 2015 3:31pm
Citysavior- Barbara Fair “Sharpton type” behavior?? Really? Maybe CareerPanther is onto something.
I guess it’s ok to speak up and disrupt if your name is Stratton or someone who looks like him.
posted by: NHPS Teacher on April 10, 2015 4:26pm
There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do.
posted by: Hill Resident on April 10, 2015 5:55pm
@CareerPanther - again I think your assumption that the commenters on this issue are White racist. They could be New Haven citizens of color who do not agree with Ms Fair and her actions. That being said, I can’t tell you what I think she should do because I don’t know what she is trying to do. I don’t know what her reasonings were for trying to introduce an item for discussion last week in a forum that was not set up for the purpose. I don’t know what her reasoning was for complaining about insults from a group of protesters (whom she assumed were officers but all were not) when her group of protestors were also hurling insults. I don’t know what her reasoning is for protesting the actions of police when they are dealing with lawbreakers and not protesting the actions of the lawbreakers. But I would suggest that she review the tactics she uses to adress the issues she is ‘passionate’ about to see if they are producing results that do MORE than put her name in the paper. What are the results that benefit the ‘people’ she serves ... who are the people she serves, is she a help or a hinderance. But as long as she just ‘makes noise’ she will not be taken seriously or affect any real change.
posted by: NtheKnow on April 10, 2015 6:40pm
Bravo Esserman ... Keep those meetings close.. And may I also suggest the FAIRS change their name to Clueless, that better suits them. How dare you show up at a meeting where you are a guest trying to push your agenda…. Who do they think they are??? No public period .... Kimber as well ... If this is the best New Haven has for civic leaders we are in big trouble… Oh I’m African American as well and these people DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME!!! EVER!!!
posted by: robn on April 10, 2015 9:30pm
Stratton? Really??? You really want to go there comparing “activist” Barbara Fair with someone who actually got elected to serve the combined richest and poorest ward in the city? (elephant in the room alert) is the fact that he had the audacity to fall in love with a beautiful young African American woman that grating to you?
posted by: westville man on April 11, 2015 9:02am
Wow Robn. Just let your imagination run wild won’t you? How you managed to stretch my comment something about his relationship is in incredible. Reread my post. My comment was directed at the way Fair was criticized for interrupting and being disrespectful when Her tactics were similar to Strattons when he was on the board. Or have you forgotten that? But dont let that get in the way of a good swipe at me.
posted by: robn on April 11, 2015 6:31pm
Fair was a civilian invited to observe a police meeting and chose to raise a ruckus. Stratton was a public official representing constituents and it was HE that was interrupted (censored) in public meetings, not vice versa. His being ostracized is a ceremonial castration by the powers that be amplified by noisy and prudish separatists.
posted by: citysavior on April 11, 2015 11:36pm
TO CARRERPANTHER did I hit a sore point with you?? I didn’t mention any thing regarding race! I simply said that Fair has exhibited Sharton like behaviors which to clear it up for you is making accusations trying to rally people to their point and never acknowledging that their protest was counter productive and wrong. Not to mention comparing New Haven to Ferguson. Don’t make this a race thing. This is a my city does not deserve this type of decisive behavior.
posted by: budman on April 12, 2015 1:05pm
It is absolutely discussing that people have such little respect for public servants. This man is the chief of police and should be respected. Is this the same woman who disrespected Mayor Harp? Shameful.