NORWALK, Conn. – A record of treating minorities fairly has earned former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling an endorsement from the Norwalk Guardians Association in his drive to become Norwalk’s next mayor, Norwalk Police Officer Carl Williams said Monday.
“Members of the Norwalk Guardians Association have voted to endorse Harry Rilling for mayor,” Williams, president of the Guardians, said Monday. “We recognize his efforts and his responsiveness to the needs of our organization. … As evidenced by his 40 years of service to the city of Norwalk, members of the Norwalk Guardians believe that Harry Rilling can provide the leadership necessary to move our city forward.”
The Norwalk Guardians were formed in 1976 to level the playing field and make things fair, Rilling said. He said he felt humbled and validated by the experience.
“For them to endorse me makes me feel that when they approached me, when they wanted to talk to me, when there issues in the department that they felt were unfair, that I was accessible to them, that I was fair to them, that I met with them, that I was reasonable,” he said. “This validates my feeling that I did the best I could to be fair to all members of the Norwalk Police Department, to be fair to all members of the city of Norwalk. I can’t really express how honored I am.”
Williams was flanked by Officer Max Sixto, former president of the Norwalk Guardians, and Officer Hubert Smith, vice president of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers. Retired Officer Carleton Giles also arrived to show his support for Williams.
Smith said he has lived in Norwalk for more than 30 years and first remembers worked under Rilling 25 years ago, when the former chief was a captain. He said Rilling was being endorsed by the national organization because the former chief was always very supportive of the association’s issues.
“We feel that his platform is very progressive and bodes well for us in the future,” he said.
Specifically, he said, Rilling’s stance on development would help Norwalk. He said the current administration has been holding Norwalk back.
“We need to grow,” he said. “I have spoken to him, on what he is proposing for future development. … there is no reason we shouldn’t be as developed as Stamford. It’s very important to bring business in to take the burden off the tax base.”