The mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, says he will move faster on steps for local police reforms in the aftermath of the weekend’s protests.
Mayor Justin Elicker says he’ll fast track a years-long plan to form a Civilian Review Board to oversee the city’s police.
“The community’s been advocating for that, the creation of the Civilian Review Board, for many many, many years. This was high on my agenda and the pandemic came along. It’s not an excuse. It needs to be still high on the agenda.”
There were no arrests in New Haven over the weekend, although some protestors threw bottles and some police used pepper spray. Elicker says the protests were largely a success.
“New Haven is not burning Atlanta. New Haven has had a long history of demonstrations, voicing our outrage at times, voicing our hopes at times. Yesterday was just another example of what makes me proud about being here.”
But Elicker says between the protests and the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is weathering serious storms in the five months since he took over the mayor’s office.
“I think we’ve just got to listen to each other. We’ve got to understand each other’s humanity. We have to do our best to be compassionate and understand where people are coming from. And as much as we can, even though we don’t always agree on things, work together.”
Also on Tuesday, Reverend Boise Kimber called together New Haven clergy to discuss policing in black communities.
Kimber said his congregation at First Calvary Baptist Church has been building relationships with local police for at least 10 years and that he meets once a month with the force.
“We talk about what is happening in our city, what is happening in our community. We’ve still got problems, but we continue to work together and continue to have an open dialogue about policing and our community.”
He said after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd while kneeling on his neck, he has questions about New Haven’s police policies.
“What is the rule for takedown? What is the rule for arresting an individual?
Kimber wants New Haven Police to hire more black officers and update internal policies on use of force.
Meanwhile, Elicker says he’ll review how the city works with police at Yale University and neighboring towns. Last year a Yale officer and a Hamden officer opened fire on a car in New Haven, injuring a woman.