We Republican candidates to represent Norwalk in the State Senate, State House of Representatives and United States House of Representatives share thanks for the endorsement of the Norwalk Police Union Local 1727. All of us, in our own way and collectively, have been the beneficiaries of the professional law enforcement services provided consistently by the Norwalk Police for decades.
Each of us maintains opposition to the so-called “police accountability” law passed by Connecticut’s legislature this summer. Our opposition is based not on the need for accountability in police, or any public service for that matter, but in the fact that this bill was rushed, failed to have an adequate public hearing, failed to include legislation that would truly remove bad actors, and requires additional examination of facts after its enactment. The law casts extraordinary doubt on the ability of even the absolute best police departments and law enforcement officers to discharge their civic responsibilities professionally and fairly.
We are not police officers. Nor are the vast majority of legislators who voted to enact this law. The presumption is preposterous that legislative knowledge—gathered over the course of only a few weeks—is sufficient to dramatically alter the relationship between law enforcement and the communities it is empowered to protect. There is a rich history of police training and guidelines that deal with every aspect of the law passed this year. Norwalk provides an example.
The Norwalk Police Department has since 1995 been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). CALEA is the national credentialing authority created in cooperation by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriffs’ Association and Police Executive Research Forum. Accreditation provides the “Marks of Professional Excellence” for today’s public safety agencies and reflect the gold standard benchmark associated with CALEA.
As required to maintain its status, Norwalk’s Department has applied for and met CALEA’s stringent standards every three years to maintain its accreditation. Norwalk is the largest city in Connecticut to receive the accreditation.
Interestingly, Norwalk’s initial CALEA accreditation came in the very year that current Mayor Harry Rilling was first sworn in as Police Chief, a position he maintained for the ensuing 17 years before retirement from the force and the promotion of current Chief Tom Kulhawik. For more than 25 years the recognition of Norwalk’s professional law enforcement standards has not depended on politics but on performance, as it should.
There is no doubt that the legislative intent of this law is positive. But the process of considering such drastic change was done with excessive haste.
The results insult the vast majority of dedicated, professional law enforcement personnel with a broad brush of legislative assumption that police activities are generally nefarious, their established training and experiential understanding meritless, their leadership complicit in cronyism, and their regard for the tradition of respect for their profession tainted by selfish protectionism. It is a judgement not deserved by Norwalk Police.
Norwalk citizens, including those in law enforcement, deserve better.
Jonathan Riddle, Candidate, 4th Congressional District
Elisavet “Ellie” Kousidis, Candidate 25th State Senate District
Ellen Wink, Candidate 137th State Assembly District
John Flynn, Candidate 140th State Assembly District*
Terrie Wood, Candidate 141st State Assembly District
Fred Wilms, Candidate 142nd State Assembly District
Patrizia Zucaro, Candidate 143rd State Assembly District
*Editor’s note: John Flynn was not endorsed by Norwalk Police Union Local 1727.