NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Police officers have endorsed every Republican legislative candidate set to be on the Norwalk ballot this fall, save one.
Endorsed at Thursday’s meeting of Norwalk Police Union Local 1727 were:
- Jonathan Riddle for U.S. Representative
- Elisavet “Ellie” Kousidis for State Senate
- Ellen Wink for District 137 State Representative
- Terrie Wood for District 141 State Representative
- Fred Wilms for 142 District State Representative
- Patrizia Zucaro for 143 District State Representative
The only candidate not on that list is John Flynn, who is running for District 140 State Representative.
Norwalk Police do not typically endorse legislative candidates. The vote, described as unanimous in a press release, follows the passage of a controversial Connecticut police accountability bill.
“Our Union feels the Democratic party used us for photo ops and has taken advantage of our friendships,” Lt. David O’Connor, police union President, is quoted as saying. “They wrote and passed a bill that damages our ability to do policing in the most basic sense and threatens our job security. The bill was rushed through with zero input from the stakeholders in policing with no evidence to show the need for such drastic changes. We feel betrayed and deceived.”
The ambitious legislative attempt to reset Connecticut’s policing standards, training and culture in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing by police was met in July with a mix of furious pushback from police officers complaining of a political overreaction to measured critiques by others in law enforcement who say they are ready to embrace change.
A hearing conducted via Zoom video conferencing by the legislature’s Judiciary Committee attracted written and oral testimony from hundreds, but it perhaps drew the strongest response from the police profession, under fire from nationwide demonstrations against police bias and violence towards Blacks and other minorities..
“We feel it is a knee-jerk reaction,” said Sgt. Alexia Castro, the president of the police union in Naugatuck.
Norwalk Police “hope that the Republicans can bring some common sense and logic to the legislature and make sensible changes to this law,” O’Connor is quoted as saying in Saturday’s press release. “Police work was difficult enough prior to this bill being passed. With the enactment of bill HR6004 sound, good policing is now nearly impossible.”
Norwalk Democrats did not respond to an email asking for comment.
Republican candidates react
Each of the Republican candidates expressed personal support for the Norwalk Police Department and its officers, during the police union meeting, the press release said.
“I am an educator by profession,” Kousidis is quoted as saying. “We teach children to respect law enforcement officers and take pride in the safety of our city. I don’t agree with the current attempts to drive a wedge between our officers and the community they serve.”
Kousidis is seeking to unseat State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), who has publicly accused Norwalk Police of bullying him when he went to Norwalk Police headquarters in July, after the House passed the bill.
Kousidis said, “When elected I promise to be a voice in Hartford that better understands and supports the vast majority of professional law enforcement personnel who serve us. I further pledge to include representatives of the police community in consideration of any future legislation that may be proposed to affect the safety of Connecticut citizens.”
Wilms is seeking to unseat State Rep. Lucy Dathan (D-142), who took the seat from him in 2018. He had served two two-year terms.
“I very much appreciate the endorsement from our Norwalk police,” Wilms is quoted as saying. “They do an excellent job of protecting us and being engaged in the Norwalk community.”
Wink is seeking to unseat State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137), who has held the position for more than 15 years.
“I know many of the Norwalk police officers,” Wink is quoted as saying. “They are highly trained, professional in their approach and genuinely concerned for the safety of our community. Their endorsement means a great deal to me.”
Zucaro is competing with Democratic candidate Stephanie Thomas for the seat held by State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143), who is retiring from the post.
“I am truly honored to have received this endorsement because I have so much respect for the work that the Norwalk Police Department does every day,” Zucaro is quoted as saying. “We can never imagine how difficult that job is and we must ensure that they have the tools and the means to perform it to the best of their ability.”
Wood is running for reelection unopposed. She praised the Norwalk Police Union and her fellow candidates for standing together in respect for the tradition of admiration for the Norwalk police, according to the press release.
“This department has for decades been recognized as a leader in professional development and the exercise of its law enforcement responsibilities,” Wood said in the release. “I truly admire these officers and believe that respect ought to be shared by the legislature as a whole.”
Riddle, a Norwalk resident, is running against U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich).
“It is an honor to be endorsed by the Norwalk Police Union Local 1727,” Riddle is quoted as saying. “I firmly stand behind our police that continue to uphold law and order and keep our communities safe. I look forward to supporting the fine men and women of law enforcement when I get to Congress.”
Flynn is seeking to unseat State Rep. Travis Simms (D-140), who is in his first term.
Fynn has filed many lawsuits against Norwalk Police, representing himself pro se, accusing the department of helping to cover up 300,000 felonies in his alleged loss of millions of dollars through wire fraud, check fraud and securities fraud. He has posted multiple YouTube videos accusing Norwalk Police of misconduct and in one recent video, called the late Officer Cesar Ramirez “the dumbest guy on the planet Earth. A nice guy though, very nice man.”
Flynn said Sunday that he is glad his fellow Republican candidates were able to secure their endorsements.
“As you know Travis has sought defunding and cutting their budget in the past but a handful of officers don’t believe I am a friend to the police,” Flynn wrote. “My godfather and his three sons were great policeman. a 20-YEAR VENDETTA is no substitute for probable cause. I ask where is the 47 million?”
Copy edit, 2 a.m. Tuesday: clarification to headline that this was a union vote. Connecticut Mirror reporters Kelan Lyons and Mark Pazniokas contributed to this story.