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Kulhawik addresses Norwalker’s Ferguson-related concern

NORWALK, Conn. – Events unfolding in Ferguson, Mo., have resonated with some Norwalk citizens to the point that one asked Thursday what kind of weaponry and training Norwalk Police have.

In reply, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik provided NancyOnNorwalk a list of equipment that the Norwalk Police has received from the federal government.

The killing of an unarmed 18-year-old man by a Ferguson police officer has drawn national attention to the St. Louis suburb, as residents protest and reports of police overreactions are prominently displayed on major news networks. President Barack Obama stepped in Thursday and called Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and urged him to take action, according to news reports.

Common Councilwoman Eloisa Melendez (D-District A) sent numerous Tweets about this situation, including, Thursday, comparisons to protests in the 1960s.

Another citizen sent NoN an email, saying that “in light of the debate about militarization of local police forces” he had questions:

• What ordnance and/or equipment has Norwalk obtained from the pentagon or Homeland Security?

• What paramilitary training has NPD officers received?

• What type of crowd control/civil rights training do NPD officers receive?

Kulhawik said Norwalk Police have received patrol rifles through Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, which authorizes the Department of Defense to transfer excess military property to state and local law enforcement agencies, but most of them have been replaced with “newer city-owned weapons.”  The department is seeking an armored vehicle for its Emergency Services Unit, he said.

“Police departments are paramilitary organizations, although the training for the most part is specific to police and not the armed services. Obviously, some tactics such Active Shooter response etc. take some of their leads from lessons learned in military situations,” Kulhawik said. “Officers receive crowd control at the academy and they also receive it during in-service (and) during defensive tactics retraining. Officers receive an abundance of training on Constitutional Rights at the recruit academy and regularly as part of in-service training. Upholding the Constitutional rights of individuals is at the heart of what we are sworn to do.

“We strive to assure the Constitutional rights of every person, including the rights of the media to cover events, and would work to assure that we act within those Constitutional protections,” he continued. “However, rioting and willful damage to other’s property cannot be condoned and the police must work to prevent that. Peaceful protests however, are part of this countries fabric and the right to free speech must be protected.”

Comments

27 responses to “Kulhawik addresses Norwalker’s Ferguson-related concern”

  1. Hold ur Hands Up

    Commanders in authority, see Fergeson, take note on how to handle crowd control and how NOT to. Was beginning to worry there for a minute. Hat tip to Gov Nixon and MO State Patrol Capt Ron Johnson. Psst, hey Gov. Johnson needs a promotion. And Tommy Jackson your six months are up take your pension and move on, out of police work, permanently.

  2. Don’t Panic

    Who asked about the constitution? Me thinks he doth protest too much.

  3. The Aga Khan

    The headline should have been “Norwalk seeking armored vehicle” and a further explanation of why it’s needed with quotes from experts validating or invalidating the assumption. Nice timely article. The best of what hyper local journalism should be doing.

  4. sofaman

    Police departments are, by default, NOT paramilitary organizations. They become paramilitary when they fail at their primary role, which is to limit civil disorder. I think recent events have awoken citizens of all political sides to this misunderstanding.

  5. What in the world are the police going to do with an armored vehicle?

  6. Oldtimer

    Jeff
    Hopefully, keep officers from being shot, possibly killed, by deranged people with sniper skills and equipment. Like fire extinguishers, this kind of equipment is acquired with the intent that it be available and never needed. It would not be the first such vehicle, at one time (60s) a local citizen donated a WWII half track that had been modified to be full protection for several people against then available small arms fire. I don’t think that vehicle ever had to be used. Because it wasn’t purchased with taxpayer funds, it never got much, if any, media attention.

  7. LWitherspoon

    The images from Ferguson are deeply troubling. Few know the full circumstances of what happened, and it would be a mistake to judge the police response to protests without extensive information about the situation on the ground. So let’s hope for calm and healing while there is a full investigation.
    .
    I share the concern of those who ask what kind of military equipment, if any, we want our Police Department to have. When has the Norwalk PD been hindered by the lack of an armored vehicle for its Emergency Services Unit?

  8. Ms Ruby McPherson

    With all the new tattooed out of town rookie we are not sure how things would be handled, because all the training can go out the window and they panic as we have heard and some seen. If we do protest in peace, there is always someone who might try to change that for the people who has organized the protest in peace. So DON’t PANIC, would you rather peaceful protest or riots? Also armored vehicle doesn’t mean it has to be used for riots or city protest. You don’t know what you have in your city, could have terrorist living among us, just waiting for 2017 to hit this city, you don’t know. Why don’t people think ahead? Also what has Tommie Jackson got to do with this. He came to do what he was suppose to do considering the mess it was in. There was no choice.
    THE POLICE NOW SHOOT TO KILL, WHAT HAPPEN TO THE TRAINING SHOOT TO STOP? ( IN THE LEG, HAND, FOOT)

  9. @Oldtimer: An armored vehicle doesn’t provide any cover against a lone sniper that a tree or car wouldn’t. And armored vehicles provide limited visibility, which is fine in a tactical situation where there are good guys behind you and bad guys in front of you, and your mission is to kill all the bad guys. I can’t conceive of a situation in Norwalk where there wouldn’t be civilians around.

  10. ScopeonNorwalk

    They don’t need an armored vehicle. Please…so they can snipe at our children. There needs to be an article on how they plastered three innocent kids faces across the media and held them in cuffs for hours…knowing the full time they were looking for one male with a hoodie who ran in the opposite direction of where the kids were picked up.

  11. Mary Lopez-Fabrega

    Dear Governor Malloy,

    As a white American who actively participates in the political process, I was shocked watching the pictures on the news from Ferguson, Missouri this evening on my television set. The armored combat vehicles employed there with men with mounted guns at the ready on the top of these vehicle looked more like a picture from a war zone in Afghanistan than what I would expect to see on a street in an American city. To complete this horrible picture, the police officers were dressed in camouflage uniforms and wearing combat boots. As a matter of fact, these armored combat vehicles were designed specifically for the war in Afghanistan.

    Now, much to my dismay, I have discovered that our state has nine of these for use in our police force around the state. I find this whole idea unconscionable and a dangerous direction for us to take. When I was growing up, I was taught to trust a police officer when I needed help. These men do not look like anyone I could ask for help. Unfortunately, this militarizing of the police force looks disturbingly like a move toward a police state. How can you or anyone as a good citizen of this country approve of this?

    Governor, I look forward to knowing your rationale for purchasing these costly combat vehicles to put down initially peaceful expressions of dismay by citizens at the oppressive response by the “keepers of the peace”.

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Mary Lopez-Fabrega

  12. Tim D

    @Mary Lopez-Fabrega These police officers would no sooner put your head through a plate glass window than order a cup of coffee and think nothing of it.

    You are right on being taught about how the police were supposed to help us and be someone you could approach, admire and respect but it’s a far different world now where they can have sex with children and then cut deals, they can steal, they desecrate bodies and keep their jobs AND pensions in the few examples where they were fired!! And that’s just in Norwalk. That, is impossible to respect.

    ..
    Maybe they’d have you believe that the armored vehicle for the impending zombie apocalypse? Cause it makes no sense.

  13. longtimedem

    I am having a hard time thinking of a set of circumstances over the last 40 years in which the Police Department would have been better off deploying an armored vehicle than the equipment that they actually had on hand. And we all have the tendency, once we have a cool piece of equipment, to want to use it; it’s nothing peculiar to police forces – it’s just human nature.
    *
    So, I think of the recent closing-hour brawl that spread into Washington Street recently, or some of the recent nautical brouhahas from our favorite visiting party boat. Would someone at headquarters, faced with such a large scale bar fight, think that this is the perfect time to roll out the armored vehicle? And would it have helped or (I fear) instead escalated the situation?

    I would be all in favor of acquiring such a vehicle if we knew that we would only see it as a float in the Memorial Day Parade.

  14. Walter O’Reilly

    Such naive people. When was the last time there was a shooting in Norwalk where a police officer used his firearm? It’s been a long time, so maybe we should do away with guns for the police! When was the last time America was attacked by a foreign terrorist? 13 years! So why do we need airport security? Let’s get rid of it! This is the United States of America, armed forces do not deploy for local disturbances, it’s all in the States and City’s hands. Police forces need to be prepared and trained for the worst, because there is no higher authority to call. Check your news around the country on the internet, incidents involving armored vehicles and police happen daily, but our biased national news networks rarely cover them. They are used all the time to save lives of citizens and police officers from crazy people with high powered rifles, etc. It’s not militarizing the police just because they use technology to make sure they go home to their families and to protect innocent civilians. If the technology and equipment is there and available, why not use it? There’s more armored vehicles and weaponry ending up in the hands of ISIS in Iraq, would you rather see them using it against our citizens instead?

  15. Joanne Romano

    The images all over the nation are troubling…but when are we going to put the blame where it belongs with those committing the crimes? Why not try looking at the whole story prior to making snap decisions and starting riots and looting and burning down the town? I’m not saying there aren’t some shall I say over zealous cops and even some who shouldn’t be cops but those should be dealt with and move on. Riots are a huge disaster not only for the police but for the citizens as well. Do any of these people realize they are doing nothing more than destroying their own neighborhoods? They are taking the livelihood away from their own families and friends when they start smashing and looting and causing damage. And for what? More injuries, possibly more deaths from out of control crowds? I just don’t understand when people will start taking responsibility for their own actions. Did anyone read the papers last night when at 6:30pm while children wee playing in their yards and regular citizens were going about their regular lives there was a blatant shooting in East Norwalk? Or perhaps “Police investigate shots fired incident in SoNo” and even “Police respond to large melee, stabbing, assault in SoNo early Saturday morning” Is this normal behavior that we as regular citizens can handle? When are people going to wake up to the fact that it isn’t the police causing these crimes? Wake up folks, it’s the criminals committing these crimes. Why are we blaming the cops? Why not try and help the cops? Or would that be too neighborly to help protect your fellow citizens? Why not stop blaming others and start putting the blame where it belongs? Parents wake up, gangs aren’t just in the projects and low income housing units, they are are everywhere, in our schools, at the grocery stores at the beach and may even be your next door neighbor and not just in Norwalk and until we as citizens start helping the police instead of hindering them, thee gangs will continue to recruit your kids and the situation will only get worse. Until we as citizens realize that there are many people who have no respect for another’s life and only live for retaliation no matter who gets hurt in the scuffle to gain ground there will never be a time when any of us are completely safe no matter what part of town we live in. Try working with instead of against the cops, it’s always so easy to shift the blame when we don’t want to face reality! Why do we thwart the efforts of those who are there to protect and serve? Cop bashing is old hat…it’s been forever and always by those who just don’t get it!!!

  16. Don’t Panic

    @oreilly,
    links please…to incidents that could not have been handled WITHOUT the armored vehicles. After all pre-911 the national guard would have been the ones utilizing this equipment. The need should be demonstrated beyond the normal needs.
    .
    @ruby.
    yes. Peaceful protesters are not terrorists and terrorism fighting tactics shouldnt be used by them. And war equipment isnt terrorist fighting equipment anyway.
    .

  17. One and Done.

    Where are the protestors in Norwalk? Where have they gone? Obama is bombing Iraq. Shouldn’t you all be out protesting at city hall every Saturday like you did when Bush was president? Hypocrites all of you.
    .
    As long as the economic malaise continues and we have a President who willfully violates our own laws, we will have knuckleheads committing more and more acts of violence and crime. It is called tone at the top.
    .
    Buy the tank. Use it judiciously.

  18. Scott

    Doesn’t anyone remember the horrifying video of the California bank robbers with the body armor? How many police officers were shot that day? Would they not have benefited from the use of an admired vehicle? Why does it matter what stile of firearm the police use? Correct me if I’m wrong but I was always told that the only time a police officer is to discharge a firearm is when there is the threat of loss of life. And when they do shoot it is to kill because there is no other choice (tazer, stun gun, pepper spray, etc….). If those are the circumstances I would want the officers to do it as effectively as possible. Being a police officer isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain type of person. I don’t I could face an angry mob of hundreds or thousands. I’m thankful there are people who can and I want them to be well equipped to do it

  19. EastNorwalkChick

    I find it very disturbing that Chief Kulhawik considers “Police departments are paramilitary organizations”, what happened to the “Serve and Protect” part of the oath they take? Do they, the police, believe that they are at war now? Who’s the enemy combatant, us?
    *
    These new recruits that are coming out of the academy are being trained militarily, not being trained in community policing. Which is what is needed most in Norwalk if you want the community to trust you.
    *
    Even as a middle aged white woman, these new young guns in the force scare the heck out of me. So I can just imagine the fear a young black or Hispanic man has when pull up in military issued flack jackets, cargo pants, armed to the teeth….and that’s what they wear to just get a cup of coffee at the Mobile Station on the corner of Winfield and East Ave. You’d think we were under siege from some occupying force.
    *
    What is happening in Ferguson, MO and the heavy handedness of the police right after the shooting of Michael Brown should be a lesson for all towns and cities throughout the nation on how NOT to handle a situation like this.
    *
    We do not need an armored vehicle, what we need is for the police to stop playing army, to stand down, take all the gear off and get back to community policing.

  20. One and Done.

    @EastNorwalkChick. You’ve obviously never walked down Fort Point or Van Zant at night. I don’t know about you, but I’d feel a lot safer seeing NPD presence there or on North Main where kids are blasting in broad daylight. Don’t think for a second that if these police in Ferguson weren’t armed to the teeth that the mob wouldn’t mow them down.

  21. Scott

    Not every police officer is a saint. As with every group one or two bad standouts ruin the perception of the majority. EastNorwalkChick you must be smoking something because the majority of the officers I see are wearing their standard service blues(is it dark blue is it black whose to say but you get my gist). Should the rookies in the department be trained to use diplomacy? I would hope so but of course neither you or I have ever attended the police academy to say otherwise. And why are you judging them by their appearance? Is a teenager who dyes their hair doing drugs? Would you prefer the city to hire a bunch of creampuffs that can’t perform physically when the going gets rough? I want physically fit, well trained, well equipped defenders of the freedom we are all guaranteed by the constitution.

  22. Been there done that

    jeff hall are you really so naive. Trees don’t move and cars are made mostly of plastic and aluminum. They won’t stop rifle bullets. That’s why you need a military grade vehicle that can stop a rifle bullet. The military equipment that police now use is a response to the real world. In the last three weeks the Norwalk Police Department responded to three barricaded, possibly armed suspects. In each circumstance the suspects were removed from the building, without a single shot being fired or any injuries to the suspects, civilians or the police. How about a little credit, where credit is due. A week ago you had a near riot at 50 Washington St. with 600 people, two stabbings and a robbery at the same time and once again with a very limited number of police officers The Norwalk Police Department got the job done. How about a little credit, where credit is due. If you can do a better job take the police test. If you want a better understandings of the real world of policing sign up for the citizen police academy.

  23. WOW just WOW

    Considering some of the abuse we have recently seen dished out to citizens of Norwalk by the Norwalk Police Department. The last thing we need is more toys and weapons for the gang at the NPD to abuse citizens.

  24. Mr Norwalk Ct

    @been there done that
    I laugh how when someone criticizes the failures and of a police department, that someone always comes out with the comment if you don’t like it take the test. Would you say the same thing about, a teacher, a clerk at Walmart, a landscaper and so on. I highly doubt it. This makes me believe that the ones stating if you don’t like it take the test are actually members of the NPD attempting spin. See the way it works is we pay taxes for the police to do thier jobs correctly. We do not pay taxes to take
    the test.

  25. Norewalk Lifer

    @ Joanne Romano, you have been lucky enough to grow up in a town where there is a check and balance, there have been many rogue police; let’s not elevate law enforcement above the requirements for check and balance.
    *
    In California, mandatory shoulder cams were placed on the law enforcement in one town; the complaints of police brutality reduced by 60%, both the police and the citizens learned to behave themselves.
    *
    If people don’t adjust their behavior to accommodate a relatively peaceful society, on BOTH sides of the equation, then technology can do it for them.
    *
    There are many who decry this surveillance as a violation of privacy rights, well, the truth is if you listen to Justice Scalia’s arguments using the old English about privacy, we have none.
    *
    So in conclusion, I, too, wish to see the situation calmed and diffused, but the truth is that the police department in Ferguson has changed their story so many times, it becomes arduous to believe them.
    *
    Last night, audio was released indicating that the Ferguson police were gathering BEFORE Mr. Brown was accosted by this police officer; clearly there is a need to get to the truth of the matter, but when youth are accosted by police for no previous actions, suspicions, etc., except for harassment, this is what they sow.
    *
    In our own town, there is a concern about the police department on both sides, they don’t do enough, they do too much, there is a balance, but let’s not idolize an institution simply because it’s an institution, we don’t do that here in this country. That’s for Central America, the Middle East, and other places where it’s just “not possible” there is corruption in the midst of those in power.

    Regards
    Norwalk Lifer

  26. Joanne Romano

    @ Norewalk Lifer – Not sure what this means…I was born and raised in Westport and as the daughter of a police officer. I was taught respect for others. I have been a resident of Norwalk for the better part of 39 years and have come to know and respect most of the officers over the years. Let me tell you that there is no one in this world who is perfect and police are no different. We all have our faults and we all stub our toes sometimes but I do believe our police department is very dedicated and well run. Never tried to elevate anyone, only trying to point out that if you show respect, you get respect!

    .
    RE:”@ Joanne Romano, you have been lucky enough to grow up in a town where there is a check and balance, there have been many rogue police; let’s not elevate law enforcement above the requirements for check and balance”.

  27. Don’t Panic

    @ Ben There: A week ago you had a near riot at 50 Washington St. with 600 people, two stabbings and a robbery at the same time and once again with a very limited number of police officers The Norwalk Police Department got the job done.
    .
    Uh, not really. The NPD requested mutual aid for that one. According to the DV, Stamford, Darien, Westport, Wilton, Metro-North and the State Police all reported to the scene to assist. And only two people got arrested.
    .
    @ mr. norwalk CT,
    So true. This is a variation of the redevelopment argument when people object to things like BJs. If you don’t like it, then you come up with something else. And you are correct–Joe Taxpayer is not the one being paid to do this job.

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