To the Editor:
In 2021, Old Saybrook voters, frustrated with problems in the police force, elected three new Democratic Commissioners (including myself) and rejected three experienced Republican Commissioners’ bid for re-election. Residents wanted speedy change. That was impossible. Thoughtful change takes time and cooperation by all of us.
The problem of turnover was inherited. According to an article in the CT Examiner dated 12/12/20, Old Saybrook lost 28 officers between 2009 – 2020. Why did the past Republican-dominated Commission accept a report prepared by the department instead of seeking an independent evaluation? The Police Commission has no budget! Why is the Republican leadership delaying and denying repeated requests for such an independent approach?
What else did the newly elected Commission inherit? Expensive lawsuits, both pending and settled, over which they had no legal or financial say. A damaged public image from actions such as those involving a Down Syndrome young man. A couple of experienced officers who needed severe discipline and finally termination.
The current commission has made substantive and meaningful procedural changes. For instance, adding public comment at both the beginning and end of meetings may not seem significant until you have something to say. Email access to individual commissioners has been used many times to make a concern know. Changing a bylaw to allow for real freedom of speech, both critical and complimentary, recently allowed a person to express his disappointment that there had been less progress since the election than he had hoped.
Nasty blame games and actions of divisiveness hurts all of us. Please vote on November 7th to give Democrats the chance to continue the positive changes made in less than 2 years.