Civilian Review Board for police use-of-force incidents approved in Meriden

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MERIDEN — The City Council by an 8-to-4 margin voted late Monday to approve establishing a Civilian Review Board to review police use-of-force incidents. 

Democratic City Councilor Krystle Blake joined minority caucus leader Dan Brunet, councilors Michael Carabetta and Bob Williams Jr. in voting against the measure in a roll call vote that occurred about four hours into the council’s meeting at Lincoln Middle School Monday night. 

Police Chief Roberto Rosado had just addressed last minute questions from Mayor Kevin Scarpati and councilors regarding the board’s establishment before the council’s vote.

Rosado, when asked directly by Scarpati, told the council he did not support the proposed review board.

Scarpati has been vocal in his opposition against establishing the review board. He was critical of the timing of Monday’s discussion and vote. As he announced the results of Monday night’s council vote a few members of the public who had attended the meeting shouted for an immediate veto. 

Opponents and supporters of the proposed review board addressed the council. It appeared the majority of those who spoke in-person and submitted written comments opposed establishing the board. Police personnel who spoke against the board’s establishment included Meriden Police Union President Det. Sgt. John Wagner, Police Capt. John Mennone, and city Councilor-elect and veteran police officer Ray Ouellet.

The discussion and vote came two months after the council’s postponed action on a committee’s recommendation to form an external civilian panel to review police use-of-force incidents.

Those who supported the proposal said they were in favor of increased transparency and accountability. Those who were against the proposal spoke of an increased burden on police and decreased officer morale. 

The city’s Use of Force Study Committee, whose nine members included representatives from the City Council, the police department, and other community leaders, had voted last summer to adopt a more than 30 page report that recommended establishing the civilian review board. The report and recommendation came after seven months of meetings. 

The proposal appeared headed for a vote of the council after its finance committee forwarded a committee report to the full body recommending its adoption. However, the agenda for the council’s Sept. 20 meeting when the item would have been taken up, instead listed it as “postponed indefinitely.”

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