New Canaan RTC Summary Statement on Security and Town Policing
The New Canaan RTC fully supports the New Canaan Police Department (“NCPD”) in its stated goal “To protect and serve the community with courage, professionalism and integrity.” The New Canaan Police Department holds a significant responsibility in ensuring the safety of New Canaan citizens, protecting the physical assets of the town, developing a sense of community, and reinforcing a town culture that is intolerant of criminal activity.
We believe that the New Canaan Police Department must remain focused on enforcing laws and ordinances, preserving the rights of citizens, calming any fear, and maintaining order. We are committed to providing the appropriate resources and support to the New Canaan Police Department that drives their vision statement: “A safe, peaceful and crime free community”. We expect New Canaan police to treat citizens with dignity, professionalism, and respect. Importantly, amidst a national dialogue on policing and potential reforms, we believe that law enforcement remains the quintessential local issue.
The activities of the New Canaan Police Department affect people and our community directly, and therefore, accountability for police failures or potential reforms should remain with local leaders, not with Hartford or national one-size-fits-all mandates.
To these ends, the New Canaan RTC believes that the Police Commission should continue to:
► Ensure transparency and local accountability on all New Canaan Police Department matters, including finances, discipline of officers, and community policing;
► Remain focused on safety and maintaining order, prioritizing the safety of our schools and children;
► Equip the New Canaan Police Department with the resources required to do their job; and
► Adopt sensible reforms and progressive training solutions to help the New Canaan Police Department solve community problems while exhibiting personal and professional excellence.
Principles, Policies & Rationale
Transparency and Accountability
► Continue to show that New Canaan Police Department is an open, transparent, and approachable police agency. Residents should feel comfortable speaking directly to the New Canaan Police Department about their concerns.
► Democrat proposals to expand the federal and state oversight of local police departments would reduce local control and responsibility. New Canaan citizens and local elected officials know what is best for our town and can directly hold our police accountable.
Safety Focus, Prioritizing Schools and Children
► Focus on core responsibility: safety, calming any fear, and maintaining law and order.
► Regularly assess best practices and innovative ways to ensure safety of our schools while fostering a healthy relationship with students and police officers. Work with the Board of Education and school officials on these programs.
► Review school resource officer (“SRO”) effectiveness and ensure the SRO position is being used in the most efficient and constructive way possible. The New Canaan RTC opposes efforts such as Sen. Chris Murphy’s attempt to end SRO programs and take away the ability of local communities right to decide whether to have an SRO program or not.
Provide Appropriate Resources
► Do not cave to misguided political and cultural pressure; fund the police. Underfunding drives retirements and hampers recruiting. Do not play political games and sacrifice safety.
► Integrate advanced technology and resources that improve police effectiveness and individual accountability.
Adopt Sensible Reforms and Training Programs
► Reinforce a police culture that respects all human life and promotes dignity in interactions between police and citizens. A police officer’s responsibility ifor protecting life must include the officer’s own life. To respect the lives of all, you must respect the lives of each.
► Police policies should encourage police to be proactive, not reactive.
► Oppose the modified roll-back of qualified immunity. Oppose any legislation that exposes police to frivolous lawsuits and can cause police to retreat from situations in which they are needed.
► Have town officials work cooperatively with the New Canaan Police Department to review policy changes such as eliminating choke holds unless deadly force is warranted, requiring de-escalation training, requiring warning before shooting, and more comprehensive reporting to reduce mistrust or wariness between police and citizens.