MERIDEN — The City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night expressing support and gratitude for the police department while making clear that reforms under consideration are not meant as an indictment of the department.
In response to the death of George Floyd and the protests locally and nationwide that followed, the council’s Democratic caucus in June introduced a resolution with nine wide-ranging initiatives designed to improve racial equity in city government. The resolution, which is still pending final approval, had three items specific to the police department.
Most notably, councilors are exploring establishing a citizen board that would review police use-of-force investigations completed by the department. The resolution also calls for all city police officers to participate in mandatory racial-bias training and would require the department to regularly report “racial equity-centered statistics” to the council’s Public Safety Committee.
The resolution passed Monday states that the proposed policing initiatives are not meant to “impugn the reputation of (the department).”
“It had nothing to do with being anti-police,” Democratic councilor Nicole Tomassetti said Monday of the anti-discrimination initiatives. “It was about guaranteeing racial equity in all aspects of our government.”
Council subcommittees are vetting each racial equity proposal and are expected to make a recommendation to the full City Council by early September.
The council’s minority caucus wrote the body of the resolution passed Monday, which reads the council “greatly thanks and supports the good police work performed by the men and women of” the department.
“While no police department is perfect, I wanted to make sure that they know as we move forward together as a community that we appreciate the sacrifices” officers make, Republican councilor Michael Carabetta said during Monday’s meeting.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati praised the department’s response to a recent rash of gun violence.
“Over the last several weeks we have made great strides of improvement to bring guns off our streets, to make arrests, to make our neighborhoods and communities safer,” Scarpati said.
The resolution passed Monday was endorsed by Scarpati and 11 of the council’s 12 members, with Democrat Yvette Cortez as the lone name not on the resolution. Cortez did not attend Monday’s meeting and couldn’t be reached for comment. During the meeting, Council Majority Leader David Lowell said Cortez recently had a family emergency and wasn’t available toward the end of last week to affirm her stance on the resolution. The council appointed Cortez to replace former Area 1 councilor Miguel Castro in June.