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East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr., has today issued an apology for racially insensitive, off-the-cuff remarks made to WPIX New York television reporter Mario Diaz on Jan. 24 (see the video here). Maturo was being interviewed for his response to the FBI arrest of four East Haven police officers charged with numerous counts of conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights, and obstruction, when, in response to a question about his efforts to reach out to the Latino community, he responded that, "I might have tacos when I go home tonight."
That video clip has gone viral as East Haven returns to the national spotlight.
Maturo’s complete statement of apology follows:
"My sincerest apologies go out to the East Haven community and, in particular, the Latino community for the insensitive and off-collar comment that I made to WPIX reporter Mario Diaz yesterday regarding the recent events affecting our community and our police department. Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already a serious and unfortunate situation. I regret my insensitive comment and realize that it is my job to lead by example.
"Our community needs to refocus on healing together. To date, my administration has already taken steps to begin that healing process. Most recently, I commissioned a new advisory committee to the Mayor named "LEARN" (Law Enforcement Advisory Resource Network) aimed at recommending updates to policies and procedures to the Board of Police Commissioners. Recognizing the need for the Latino community to have a voice on this exciting and important new board, I appointed Jose Velasquez, a well-respected community volunteer and native of Puerto Rico, to the board. The first products of that committee have been a new mission statement for our Police Department, a more accessible civilian complaint procedure, and the publishing of updated civilian complaint forms in both English and Spanish.
"I recognize that this new board is just the first of many steps that must be taken to heal our community. I apologize, again, for my insensitive comments yesterday and recognize that they are a hindrance to the progress that must be made in our community. I am dedicated to the principles of tolerance and acceptance of all and will do all that I can to foster those principles in the daily execution of my duties as Mayor. I ask this community to have faith in me and in our community as we address the challenges arising out of the past days' events."