This is an open letter to Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik.
This letter is in response to the recent interaction between some of the members from the Norwalk Police Department and State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. According to a report by CTPost dated September 2, 2020, over 30 police officers approached Senator Duff in July in a brazen act of harassment and intimidation regarding the recent passage of the Police Accountability Bill, which addresses oversight of law enforcement.
If the actions by the Norwalk Police Department are true — and we have no reason to believe that they are not — then we are appalled and outraged that such behavior is being exhibited by our professional men and women in blue. Additionally, if police officers are now rallying together to stand against the very impetus of accountability in which the law addresses, then we are moving backwards. And this is unacceptable.
Back in June when we crafted our response to the national unrest overtaking the country due to unresolved police brutality, we were quite clear that the Norwalk Police Department must implement plans that demonstrate their courage and willingness to stand in solidarity with all who support our efforts in seeing comprehensive change throughout the City. We see such actions as described by Senator Duff as the exact opposite of what we had hoped would emerge from our conference with you and Mayor Rilling a little over two months ago.
Additionally, last month, you requested support from us and other organizations in the City toward your department’s application to participate in the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) program. The IMF readily provided you with a strong letter of support because we envisioned a partnership that would work toward change in a comprehensive, bipartisan manner aimed at cooperative integrity. Have we been misled in our approach?
Senator Duff’s letter to Sgt. O’Connor stated: “… .if that happened to someone like me – a privileged, middle aged white man, an elected official, the Senate Majority Leader – what happens every day, when no one is looking and cameras aren’t turned on, to others in our community who don’t have the background or platform that I occupy?” It’s a good question and Senator Duff is right. This is about all of us.
The accosting of Senator Duff is not only an affront to good order and discipline, but is diametrically opposed to all of the good work that he, the IMF, and others are doing to ensure that our City does not become a bastion of disrespect for human rights by those entrusted to maintain law and order. As such, we propose a follow-up meeting with you, Mayor Rilling and the IMF to address the following:
- Progress of the Internal Affairs investigation into the behavior of the Norwalk policemen who engaged in the aforementioned act and any pending measures of accountability or discipline.
- Status of the Racial Equity Task Force aimed at reviewing police procedures, to include timetables of expected completion of action items and outcomes.
- An update on the department’s application for the ABLE program as well as the Police Review Board.
Please let me know a convenient day and time for our follow up meeting.
The Rev. Richard W. Clarke, D.D.
President, Interdenominational Minister’s Fellowship of Norwalk & Vicinity