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A great deal has been going on in New Haven in the past several days. As usual, the New Haven Independent has captured much of it in words, pictures and videos.
Mayor Toni Harp stepped into the NHPD situation and says: Cops being investigated should be benched until the investigation is completed. This is par for the course; why didn’t it happen in this case? The images and the article in the New Haven Independent tell the story. Check it out. It is important to also read the posted comments. It is interesting to see what people write when they can hide behind a screen name. Mayor Harp might be surprised if she could learn who some of these writers people. One has to wonder how many are NHPD officers.
Bear in mind that only a few weeks ago an article in the Wall Street Journal referred to New Haven as the antidote to Ferguson. Really! One must wonder how many people who have had encounters with the NHPD the author/s of the article spoke to before publishing it. Images are often more fuzzy from a distance; they become more clear when viewed from close up.
The next interesting development in New Haven is that the NHPD Police Chief (Esserman) visited the 15 year-old girl who was slammed to ground last Sunday by one of his police officers. This is what he is reported to have said to her at her home: “I’m not here to do the investigation,” Chief Dean Esserman told the teenager Tuesday in the living room of her family’s home in the Columbus West housing complex in the Hill. “I’ll let the investigators do that. I’m not here to interfere with your lawyer. I’m here just to show my respect. I’m your police chief. And I’m also a parent. I just wanted to see you and tell your mother and tell your grandmother that I’m really sorry."
The posted comments to this article are quite interesting (some disturbing) and really highlight the great disconnect in the broader New Haven community. As a society, we have a long way to travel yet.
Enlightened conversation during which perspectives are respectfully shared have always brought about better understanding than do screaming matches, threats and defiance. It is important that everyone acts responsibly at the outset and not give lip service to merely calm things down or blow things up. On the other hand, there are many who believe it is better to try to make amends late than not to try at all. To those who are upset that chief Esserman said he was sorry, there is a difference between saying I am sorry that someone got hurt in an encounter with police, and saying I am sorry that my officer considered it necessary to hurt you. The same level of respect and concern for their well-being should be shown to all citizens; those who think otherwise are the ones who would not make good police administrators, or good public servants. Civility is a standard of conduct for which we should all strive; this is particularly so when we assume the mantle of leadership of a service as critical to safety and well-being as a police force. In a democracy we need to put great emphasis on "we the people." We have no where to go but down if each person insists on winning. Common courtesy, manners and etiquette are essential elements in a civilized society.
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