MERIDEN — The City Council’s Public Safety Committee this week continued discussing the racial equity resolution introduced in June following the death of George Floyd, voting to have Police Chief Roberto Rosado provide racial breakdowns of arrest and traffic stop statistics in his quarterly reports to the committee.
Rosado, who came on last month, recently began providing the committee with a racial breakdown of arrests in his quarterly report, and agreed to do the same for traffic stops going forward. Rosado explained that providing race and ethnicity data for traffic stops is difficult. Officers aren’t allowed to ask motorists about their race or ethnicity and have to rely on personal observation when reporting that information.
Providing race and ethnicity data for arrests is easier because officers can obtain the information during the booking process, he noted.
Rosado thinks the state should make race and ethnicity information available through a driver’s license so that the demographic information could be automatically uploaded when an officer runs a license. That method, he added, would produce more accurate reporting of race and ethnicity.
“We have a lot of people that are biracial and may identify as more than one thing, so we’re only guessing half the time,” he said.
The request for racial breakdowns of police statistics was one of nine items included in the racial equity resolution introduced in June. Each item is currently being vetted by various subcommittees, and the full City Council is scheduled to vote on the items next month.
The committee on Wednesday also took up an item in the racial equity resolution calling for all sworn police officers and police administration to “participate in mandatory initial and annual on-ongoing racial bias training programs.”
Rosado told councilors that city officers go through that training when they are hired and repeat it once every three years, but not annually as required by the council resolution. Rosado said the new police accountability bill recently signed into law by the governor will require officers to complete the training annually, essentially making the council proposal moot.
The resolution also calls for attendance records for training to be made available to the public. Public Safety Committee Chairman Michael Cardona said he recently learned the city isn’t able to post attendance records for individual officers. As a compromise, Cardona asked Rosado if his department could post to the city’s website percentages of employees that have completed the training and break it down by job classification. Rosado said it would be “easy to do.”
The City Council passed a resolution expressing support for the police department earlier this month as a way to clarify that the reforms in the racial equity resolution are not meant “impugn the reputation of (the department).”
The resolution was introduced after Floyd died in police custody after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The officer has been charged with killing Floyd.
Since Rosado started as chief July 1, he has been ramping up the department’s community outreach efforts and making police leadership more accessible to residents.
On Thursday, he kicked off an ongoing series of monthly talks, dubbed “Thursday Talks,” by meeting and talking with about five to 10 residents that attended the event at the Meriden Green. Rosado has also announced he will begin having open office hours from 3 to 6 p.m. every Thursday “for individuals who wish to meet and have private discussions.”