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Video may clarify harmful misperceptions

Norwalk Police Sgt. David O’Connor. (File photo)

This statement was issued Tuesday in response to video being released to NancyOnNorwalk through a Freedom of Information Act request, showing exterior views of State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) interacting with Norwalk Police officers on July 24, outside police headquarters.

Lt. David O’Connor is President of Norwalk Police Union Local 1727.

Norwalk Police officers serve and protect our community during good times and bad – even during pandemics. We care deeply about the well-being and safety of all Norwalk residents and visitors to our great city.  As officers, we take an oath to protect our community – even when facing grave danger, illegal guns and violent criminals. We take our oath and all of our conduct very seriously.

It is unfortunate that a misperception of a recent meeting with our officers has generated such division in our community. We hope that this footage helps to clarify some of these harmful misperceptions. 

Our meeting with Senator Duff was not contentious, despite statements to the contrary. In fact, our meeting was cordial. Questions about the bill were asked and answered by Senator Duff and all officers present conducted themselves professionally throughout the meeting. Video of this meeting is also available.

No officer spit at Sen. Duff. After the meeting (as seen in the footage) an officer did make a spitting gesture on the ground on his way back in the building. He did not spit at Senator Duff as is made clear by the footage.

Senator Duff was not followed out by a menacing group of people with pitchforks.  What did occur was as follows. Line up was dismissed and officers, as they left line up to begin their shifts, were eager to speak with Senator Duff. These officers in line up were unable to attend his meeting and wanted to convey their opinions on the recently passed bill.  These officers were standing on a sidewalk adjacent to Senator Duff’s vehicle as he departed in an attempt to speak with him on this important issue. Senator Duff left the parking lot safely and unobstructed.

We invited Senator Duff to meet with us because the recently passed legislation impacts our ability to conduct searches for illegal guns, recruit and retain officers and protect officers in harm’s way.  Norwalk police officers conduct themselves professionally and continue to serve the public day in and day out regardless of the challenges of this new legislation. We hope that this footage will help begin the process of unifying our community and bring perspective to events as described by Senator Duff which we disagree with.

Both elected officials and public servants such as police officers have a responsibility to make it about their constituents instead of making it about them. Let’s all temper our emotions during a time the public relies on leaders to forge solutions on their behalf. It’s time for everyone to work together and check their egos at the door on behalf of sound public safety and protecting our citizens.

24 comments

Milly September 16, 2020 at 6:01 am

If the officers just wanted to speak to Bob Duff (very politely) why was he told to leave because his standing outside the building was “inciting” the officers? Union spin does not match the facts.

M Murray September 16, 2020 at 6:15 am

@Milly Don’t try to negate the facts that Suff lies about the officer “spitting at him” and 30 police officers looking like they were trying to surround his car. The video doesn’t lie. The proof is there. Duff’s version does not hold water unless he thought he was listing on the ground under the door and he can’t count to 12 and doesn’t know the difference between standing away from and surrounding. Maybe he told the story once or twice with a lot of embellishment and it took off and he couldn’t control it and others pressured him to go public. Maybe he told the story to impress others with his “oppression” and they pushed him to tell others and it got out of his control. But no matter the cause, he went public with false claims and he now needs to apologize.

Mitch Adis September 16, 2020 at 6:42 am

The Video does not match Bob Duff’s depiction. Bob Duff lied! Sad he needs to add more division to our world.

Waypointe Renter September 16, 2020 at 7:36 am

Is independent investigator looking at all unedited video (no security risk) checking accuracy of Duff’s letter and claim of visitors near his home. If he lied or fed mid-information he should have accountability

Cathy Travers September 16, 2020 at 7:40 am

Clearly Duff lied about the spitting part..officer was not even close to him and two doors between them..I think this whole thing is overblown because of politics involved and a waste of time… but that’s the gotcha world we live in now .

DrewT September 16, 2020 at 8:47 am

Bob Duff‘a story doesn’t match the videos. That’s because we all know Bob will continue his lies about the incident all the way until Election Day.

Norwalker September 16, 2020 at 10:04 am

Sorry Milly, but Duffs statements do not match the video. He lied and exaggerated the visit for political attention and he got it. If this weren’t the case and he were a true leader he would explain himself, or even issue an apology. This hasn’t happened. The public is so quick to judge a police officer based on a video, well here you have one and they are not given the same benefit of doubt when it’s the other way around.

David T McCarthy September 16, 2020 at 10:48 am

The video clearly indicates that Bob Duff grossly exaggerated the circumstances of this call. When will his apology for worrying the community in these times of trouble be forthcoming?

Ken Werner September 16, 2020 at 11:04 am

Milly has a point, but I would prefer to focus on the fact that Lt. O’Connor is making a substantial peace offering. When Lt. O’Connor says, “Norwalk police officers conduct themselves professionally and continue to serve the public day in and day out regardless of the challenges of this new legislation,” that is exactly what he should be saying. It also suggests the union will encourage its less temperate members to remember that “police officers have a responsibility to make it about their constituents instead of making it about them.” It’s hard to argue with that.

Eric September 16, 2020 at 11:46 am

The problem here is not with Norwalk PD but Senator Duff. If he had an issue with Norwalk PD he should have taken it up with them directly. Instead he chose to create a media circus. This is just election year pandering to the detriment of the citizens of Norwalk.

Celeste September 16, 2020 at 12:02 pm

I agree Milly. And why would an officer spit in front of Duff? And why would 12 officers try to intimidate him in the parking lot? And why would the videos of the “very polite” meetings be kept from public viewing? Gee, wouldn’t showing those “polite” meetings help NPD prove their innocence?
I smell a cover up and so do many others in the community. Vote.

Constitution State September 16, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Thank you Lt. O’Connor for clarifying what took place. Characterizing Senator Duff’s version as a “misperception” is very generous. I guess he didn’t count on video cameras while climbing on the Democrat bandwagon of hostility toward those who keep our communities safe. He owes you and your officers an apology. Thank you for your dedicated service to the people of Norwalk

stuart J garrelick September 16, 2020 at 12:28 pm

So as is usually the case in disagreements there are three sides to the story- Senator Duffs version, the Police Union version and something that used to be revered as “The Truth”.
The Video was released, as it should have been. But it wasn’t compelling viewing for me. Nor was it definitive and I’m not sure what it “proved”.
In my mind there was an incident that went beyond business as usual but
I’m still not sure I know the whole story. Did someone spit as a sign of disdain? Where there 12 or 30 police following the Senator out of the station? I don’t know but I’m pretty sure General Custer miscounted the number of Indigenous People at Little Big Horn.
Clearly the only chance to move forward is to have an Independent Investigation, as called for by CONECT (Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut).
Lesson to be learned:-We are never going to agree on everything but we can try to understand the other side and discuss matters civilly and let the majority decide issues, with adequate protection for minorities. I think it’a called democracy.

Celeste September 16, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Well said, Stuart!

There should ABSOLUTELY be an independent investigation into an elected state senator and member of the Norwalk community claiming harassment, bullying and intimidation by Norwalk Police Department. This isn’t going away.

Mayor Rilling- you were called upon by CONECT to conduct an independent investigation into this matter. This series of incidents happened on July 24th and there is an expanding uproar in the community that you serve. Where are you? Why hasn’t this very reasonable request by CONECT been honored?

Mike O'Reilly September 16, 2020 at 4:59 pm

The Police in this country are under attack. If you missed the story ( I did not see it in the Hour) two police officers in Los Angelos were shot at point blank while sitting in their squad car. One officer was a young mother of a six year old. The peaceful protesters followed the ambulance to the hospital and screamed we hope you die.Then they blocked access to the emergency room.
Here in CT. we have a elected Rep. scream fire in a crowded theater.

Now that our politician’s have put restraints on police without really debating this, do you think it is a stretch for them to push for more defunding of Police and bail reform after the next election?

Exhausted September 16, 2020 at 5:14 pm

Is having 12 officers lining up acceptable? Is 30 an exaggeration? Does it matter? Is Duff being opportunistic? Is O’Connor telling them truth that the 12 officers went out to ask questions rather than intimidate? I’m tired of the whole lot of them treating us residents like we’re stupid. Bottom line, probably 99% of the officers are good people doing good jobs. That’s been my experience. Accountability of course needs to be addressed, and should be done in a professional manner. No doubt, there are a couple bad apples dragging the department down requiring a need for more accountability, and I suspect the good officers are already living up to the proposed accountability measures yet can’t call the bad ones out because, if you look at what’s happening here, loyalty is demanded over accountability, WHICH IS THE WHOLE POINT AND WHY THE GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO ADDRESS IT STATEWIDE! When the union says accountability won’t allow them to do their jobs, make the case — explain the concerns and offer solutions so they can be addressed. When you instruct an elected leader (whether you like him or not) that it’s best that he leaves a police station FOR HIS OWN SAFETY because the professional officers’ tempers are flaring, and when you then appear to send 12 officers outside in an organized way following the person advised to leave for his own safety to stare down that person as he leaves the parking lot and then say it’s because they wanted to ask questions in a civilized way, a lot of credibility is lost. That explanation assumes the residents of Norwalk are stupid. It insults our intelligence as residents. Get rid of the bad guys so the good ones won’t get dragged down. This thug mentality hurts the police profession as much as any legislation. If that’s done, these situations won’t exist and politicians could never be accused of using the police this way as props. And thank God that 99% of our NOD officers are so great. I’m just sorry their reputations are getting dragged into this child’s play.

Mike Lyons September 16, 2020 at 6:02 pm

I agree there should be an independent investigation. And when it confirms was is patently obvious from the videos – that Duff lied – appropriate actions should be taken to discipline Duff (perhaps a censure by the State Senate).

Bill Dunne September 16, 2020 at 7:19 pm

I’m not sure Duff’s true character has ever been so clearly displayed as in this cute little stunt of his. Turned out to be a little too cute.

Mr. Liberty September 16, 2020 at 8:14 pm

None of you are talking about the real point here. More legislation is precisely what we don’t need. Bob Duff knew how his new legislation would be received and the anger it would generate. He has always been very ambitious up in Hartford. What we really need in light of all the racial strife and the turmoil in our major cities is a review in every police department to find the overly aggressive officers and get rid of them. New hiring should require very intensive psychological screening. But when it comes to police trying to handle a suspect who is wound up on drugs or alcohol the choke hold has to be allowed to subdue but not to choke. Right now the country has been turned upside down as rioting, burning and looting has been allowed to continue while governors, mayors and police chiefs politicize these horrible events. Furthermore, almost all of the African American men who were killed by police defied police commands and were the cause of their own demise. No matter what your race this is a case of stepping up courageously and taking responsibility for yourself. Stop playing the victim.

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