Recent events in East Haven have caused a concern with police departments across Connecticut and have put a spotlight on Coventry as an exemplary organization. Racial profiling is again the issue and it is not a new issue it was addressed back in 1999 with the enactment of the Racial Profiling Prohibition Act.
In December a U. S. Department of Justice report was sharply critical of events in East Haven noting that in one case forty percent of all traffic stops by a single officer were Hispanic individuals while only nine percent of the residents in East Haven are Hispanic. So how does this relate to Coventry?
Coventry Police Chief Mark Palmer has said, “We are committed to providing for the protection of life and property of all persons regardless of their race, creed, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age or disability. The constitutional rights of all people shall be the primary concern of all members of the department in the performance of their official duties.” That sounds nice but what does performance show that is the real question?
It seems Coventry is one of only 27 departments in Connecticut that actually fully comply with the Racial Profiling Prohibition Act by filing reports listing every traffic stop under the name of each of the department’s 15 officers, with the race and gender of each motorist stopped. Manchester and Glastonbury have not filed within the last four years and Willimantic has not filed since 2008.
The Coventry Police Department has made it a practice to stand above the crowd as a professional organization. In 2010 the Coventry Police Department was awarded National Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. This made Coventry one of only 28 departments throughout the country with less than 25 employees who have achieved this distinction and one of only 12 (of over 90) municipal police departments in the State of Connecticut to receive CALEA accreditation.
Chief Palmer and the men and woman of the Coventry Police Department can stand tall, proud of their dedication to excellence in law enforcement. Law enforcement is a highly visible public service open to criticism at every turn, sometimes justified, sometimes out of frustration and sometimes without merit but Coventry has a department dedicated to doing the job with excellence.
We can be proud as a community for the funding and support we have provided over the years to support our community police department. Together we the community, the officers of the department and the past and present Police Chiefs have built a department that Coventry can be proud to call their own.