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Lamont appoints reformers, disability advocates to reconstituted Police Officer Standards and Training Council

Troopers lined up in formation as they walked onto the field. (Yehyun Kim, CTMirror.org)

Gov. Ned Lamont appointed 11 members to the Police Officer Standards and Training Council on Thursday, reconstituting a board that oversees the training and decertification of cops across Connecticut.

The appointments are a requirement of the police accountability bill passed over the summer in a special session. The new law gives POST the authority to decertify a police officer — revoking a necessary credential for employment — if they use excessive physical force or if they do something that “undermines public confidence in law enforcement.”

Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik is no longer on the Council.

“The POST Council was dissolved as of Dec 31 as part of the Police Accountability Bill and a new version of the Council was created with new appointments.  I was not appointed as part of the new Council,” he wrote.

“The POST Council performs the critical task of holding all police officers and departments in Connecticut to the highest standards of public service,” Lamont said in a statement. “I am grateful to the outgoing council members for their years of important service to the state, and grateful to those who have volunteered to serve today. I am confident they will continue the important and complementary work of equipping officers for success, ensuring individual and community safety, and ending systemic discrimination in our criminal justice system.”

Lamont’s appointments include:

  • Keith Mello, a Milford police officer since 1981, and police chief since 2004. He has been a member of POST since 2013, and its chair since 2017. He also was the chair of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
  • Douglas Glanville, a baseball analyst for ESPN and an advocate for racial and economic equity. He has been on the council since 2016.
  • Mike Lawlor, former chair of the state’s Judiciary Committee and undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning at the Office of Policy and Management under Gov. Dannell Malloy. He is currently an associate professor in the criminal justice department at the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, and is on the New Haven Board of Police Commissioners.
  • Patricia Rehmer, who served as the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services from 2009 to 2015. She is currently the president of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network.
  • Jonathan Slifka, a longtime advocate for the disability community. He chairs the subcommittee on improving interactions with the disability community for the Police Accountability and Transparency Task Force.
  • Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, mayor of Bristol since 2017.
  • Michael Freda, first selectman for the Town of North Haven since 2009. He has been a member of POST since 2013.
  • Fernando Spagnolo, chief of the Waterbury Police Department, where he has served in since 1992.
  • Vernon Riddick, West Hartford Police Chief who has served on POST since 2018.
  • Roberto Rosado, who was chief of the Willimantic Police Department from 2016 to 2020, and is now the Meriden police chief.
  • Jim Viadero, former Middlebury police chief, current Newtown chief of police. He has been a member of POST since 2018.

 

There are 19 members of POST in total, several of whom will be appointed by members of the legislature.

“The law enforcement landscape has changed, presenting many new directions and challenges for the POST Council,” Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella said in a statement. “This refreshed group of appointees represents many new respected experts, leaders, and broad perspectives. We look forward to cooperatively addressing the many law enforcement issues that will ultimately make our state a safer place for all.”

Between the ever-present, and publicly growing, demand for accountability of police officers, and anticipated funding made available by the Biden administration, Lawlor said, “this is a very important moment for law enforcement … It’s the perfect time to be involved in this type of work for people who are dedicated to improving the criminal justice system.”

Lawlor said the work is a continuation of his last job in state government, for the Malloy administration. He said the goal there was threefold: reduce crime, reduce spending and restore confidence in the criminal justice system, among racial and ethnic minorities, victims of crime, and the general public.

“If you can improve confidence in the system, the result is less crime,” said Lawlor.

Updated, 2:52 p.m.: NancyOnNorwalk reporter Nancy Guenther Chapman contributed to this report.

One comment

David Muccigrosso January 17, 2021 at 3:47 pm

Great, I hope they root out the rot in the NPD. I’m glad that racism doesn’t seem to actually be the BIGGEST issue with NPD; rather, it’s just the general culture of corrupt slackerism, permissiveness, and coziness with the Mayor’s office that needs to be addressed. We desperately need some more professionalism out of this bunch.

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