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Keep politics out of police complaint process

When making changes to the New London Police Community Relations Committee, I ask our city councilors to use a fine point pen, and not a broad brush.

I participated in those monthly meetings for 10 years, so I have to admit that the work of the committee can at times seem without impact. I think that some tweaking involving feedback on committee recommendations, combined with changes that Chief Margaret Ackley has already made, will go a long way toward solving the problem.

I agree with Chief Ackley that citizens who participate in the committee are well-intentioned, and have New London's best interest at heart. If the issues involved in complaints were merely deciding if rules and regulations were followed, then any intelligent, well-intentioned citizen could probe and rule.

The problem is that the issues in complaints are often a combination of constitutional law, applicable state statutes, case law, established police procedure or tactics and adherence to rules, regulations, directives and orders. Those of us who have been tasked with the investigations have applicable university studies, formalized police internal affairs training and often 20-plus years of progressive responsibility in police supervision and management.

When officers from some departments would complain that politics were the driving force behind how complaints were handled and discipline was handed out in their agencies, I would brag that politics played little or no part of our system. I hope it stays that way.

Editor's note: The writer is a retired New London Police Department captain.

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