Justice News

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at Community Policing Forum
East Haven, CT
United States
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thank you, U.S. Attorney [Deirdre] Daly, for that kind introduction and for your exceptional service to the people of Connecticut.  I’d like to recognize Chief of Police [Brent] Larrabee for his leadership of the East Haven Police Department and for giving me such a warm welcome today.  And I’d like to thank everyone who worked to make this important event possible.  It’s an honor to join so many law enforcement officers, faith leaders, student representatives and community officials as we come together to discuss the important work underway here in East Haven and across the country to build relationships of trust between law enforcement officers and the communities we serve.

This is vital work, because our public safety depends on the bonds that police share with the residents they protect.  When those bonds are strong, our crime prevention efforts are more successful; incidents are more likely to be reported and addressed; and police are more likely to have the support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.  But when those essential ties break down, too often, violence breaks out.  We have seen that devastating pattern play out in a number of cases over the last several months and each heartbreaking tragedy has weighed heavily on a nation still grappling with issues that have been with us since our founding. 

While that struggle is not new, what should give us all hope is that these incidents have generated renewed focus and reinvigorated conversations about how we can best join together to create stronger, safer, more united communities.  In many cases, these conversations have been initiated by young people, who are finding new ways to communicate and to organize.  And they present us with an opportunity to bring together women and men who live and work in our neighborhoods – public safety officials and private citizens alike – in the service of this shared cause.

I want you to know that I am committed to doing my part.  Bolstering trust where relationships have frayed is one of my top priorities as Attorney General and I intend to use the full resources of the Department of Justice to support the progress that all Americans need and deserve.  Last September, we launched the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which is investing in training; advancing evidence-based strategies; spurring policy development; and supporting research that promotes credibility, enhances procedural justice, reduces implicit bias and drives racial reconciliation.  We are working with community leaders in pilot sites across the country to develop plans for progress tailored to local needs.  And two months ago, I began taking part in roundtable discussions like this one to highlight some of the outstanding and exciting work that communities and law enforcement are doing together. 

I’ve already visited Cincinnati, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama.  In the coming weeks, I will travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; and Richmond, California.  And I’m here in East Haven today because this town’s leaders – all of you at this table and your colleagues and partners beyond this room – have made clear your steadfast determination to collaborate, to innovate and to move forward as one community.  Four years ago, the Department of Justice found that the East Haven police department was engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing against Latinos.  In the years since, as a result of a consent decree and a clear commitment to change, this community has undergone a profound cultural shift.  Police have embraced the challenge of earning back the confidence of the neighborhoods it serves.  Community members and leaders are reporting increased trust and positive relationships.  And law enforcement officers are working not only to fulfil the terms of the agreement, but to make their department a model for the state.  I could not be more proud of the important progress you have made. 

In fact, all across Connecticut, law enforcement officials and civic leaders have been working collaboratively to make progress on a range of critical fronts.  This state is the site of groundbreaking programs like Project Longevity – a comprehensive effort to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities by bringing together federal, state and local authorities; social service providers; and community outreach coordinators.  Connecticut has also been a proving ground for a variety of pioneering collaborations between legal aid providers and law enforcement agencies that are working to help combat domestic violence; address wage theft; end the school-to-prison pipeline; and assist undocumented residents who have been victims of crime. 

These efforts collectively serve as a testament to the ingenuity and cooperative spirit of Connecticut’s community leaders and law enforcement officials.  They are a demonstration of the power of working together – across traditional professional lines – to forge innovative solutions to some of our toughest public safety challenges.  And they are an example for local governments and community organizers from coast to coast as they work to revitalize the relationships between law enforcement officers and the neighborhoods we protect and serve.

Of course, I recognize that the goals we are discussing today will not be easy to achieve.  We face complex issues and challenging obstacles.  Progress will take time and will require lasting commitment.  But as I look out at the group of women and men that has assembled here – devoted to a vision for a better, stronger, safer East Haven – I am not only hopeful, but confident, that this community and this country can come together to build the trust and respect we need to thrive. 

Thank you all, once again, for your partnership, your leadership and your dedication to the future of this town.  I am excited about this opportunity to speak with you.  And I look forward to working with all of you in the days and months ahead.

Thank you, U.S. Attorney [Deirdre] Daly, for that kind introduction and for your exceptional service to the people of Connecticut.  I’d like to recognize Chief of Police [Brent] Larrabee for his leadership of the East Haven Police Department and for giving me such a warm welcome today.  And I’d like to thank everyone who worked to make this important event possible.  It’s an honor to join so many law enforcement officers, faith leaders, student representatives and community officials as we come together to discuss the important work underway here in East Haven and across the country to build relationships of trust between law enforcement officers and the communities we serve.

This is vital work, because our public safety depends on the bonds that police share with the residents they protect.  When those bonds are strong, our crime prevention efforts are more successful; incidents are more likely to be reported and addressed; and police are more likely to have the support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.  But when those essential ties break down, too often, violence breaks out.  We have seen that devastating pattern play out in a number of cases over the last several months and each heartbreaking tragedy has weighed heavily on a nation still grappling with issues that have been with us since our founding. 

While that struggle is not new, what should give us all hope is that these incidents have generated renewed focus and reinvigorated conversations about how we can best join together to create stronger, safer, more united communities.  In many cases, these conversations have been initiated by young people, who are finding new ways to communicate and to organize.  And they present us with an opportunity to bring together women and men who live and work in our neighborhoods – public safety officials and private citizens alike – in the service of this shared cause.

I want you to know that I am committed to doing my part.  Bolstering trust where relationships have frayed is one of my top priorities as Attorney General and I intend to use the full resources of the Department of Justice to support the progress that all Americans need and deserve.  Last September, we launched the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which is investing in training; advancing evidence-based strategies; spurring policy development; and supporting research that promotes credibility, enhances procedural justice, reduces implicit bias and drives racial reconciliation.  We are working with community leaders in pilot sites across the country to develop plans for progress tailored to local needs.  And two months ago, I began taking part in roundtable discussions like this one to highlight some of the outstanding and exciting work that communities and law enforcement are doing together. 

I’ve already visited Cincinnati, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama.  In the coming weeks, I will travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; and Richmond, California.  And I’m here in East Haven today because this town’s leaders – all of you at this table and your colleagues and partners beyond this room – have made clear your steadfast determination to collaborate, to innovate and to move forward as one community.  Four years ago, the Department of Justice found that the East Haven police department was engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing against Latinos.  In the years since, as a result of a consent decree and a clear commitment to change, this community has undergone a profound cultural shift.  Police have embraced the challenge of earning back the confidence of the neighborhoods it serves.  Community members and leaders are reporting increased trust and positive relationships.  And law enforcement officers are working not only to fulfil the terms of the agreement, but to make their department a model for the state.  I could not be more proud of the important progress you have made. 

In fact, all across Connecticut, law enforcement officials and civic leaders have been working collaboratively to make progress on a range of critical fronts.  This state is the site of groundbreaking programs like Project Longevity – a comprehensive effort to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities by bringing together federal, state and local authorities; social service providers; and community outreach coordinators.  Connecticut has also been a proving ground for a variety of pioneering collaborations between legal aid providers and law enforcement agencies that are working to help combat domestic violence; address wage theft; end the school-to-prison pipeline; and assist undocumented residents who have been victims of crime. 

These efforts collectively serve as a testament to the ingenuity and cooperative spirit of Connecticut’s community leaders and law enforcement officials.  They are a demonstration of the power of working together – across traditional professional lines – to forge innovative solutions to some of our toughest public safety challenges.  And they are an example for local governments and community organizers from coast to coast as they work to revitalize the relationships between law enforcement officers and the neighborhoods we protect and serve.

Of course, I recognize that the goals we are discussing today will not be easy to achieve.  We face complex issues and challenging obstacles.  Progress will take time and will require lasting commitment.  But as I look out at the group of women and men that has assembled here – devoted to a vision for a better, stronger, safer East Haven – I am not only hopeful, but confident, that this community and this country can come together to build the trust and respect we need to thrive. 

Thank you all, once again, for your partnership, your leadership and your dedication to the future of this town.  I am excited about this opportunity to speak with you.  And I look forward to working with all of you in the days and months ahead.

 

Updated July 21, 2015