A U.S. Department of Justice investigation finds that police in East Haven engage in a pattern of discrimination against Latinos. The DOJ's Office for Civil Rights launched its investigation in 2009 after Latinos described a pattern of race-based violence, harassment and intimidation by East Haven police.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin announced the probe’s findings.
"Based on our investigation, we find that the East Haven police Department engages in discriminatory policing against Latinos including: Targeting Latinos for discriminatory traffic enforcement, treating Latino drivers more harshly than non-Latino drivers after traffic stops, intentionally and woefully failing to design and implement internal systems of control that would identify, track and prevent such misconduct."
Former East Haven Mayor April Capone placed police Chief Leonard Gallo on paid administrative leave in April 2010. That was just after the DOJ released early findings in its racial profiling investigation. But Capone was defeated in November and the current mayor Joe Maturo has reinstated Gallo as Police Chief.
Speaking to reporters following the DOJ announcement, Paul Hongo, former deputy director of Town Affairs says the Capone administration faced a lot of resistance to change within the police department.
"There’s a handful of people in the East Haven community that don’t want believe this. And I can understand that. None of us want to believe this. But when the facts are put before you, you can’t dismiss the facts."
DOJ officials say they hope work collaboratively with town officials and the police department to development a blueprint for reform. But if that proves impossible, the feds say they will not hesitate to take legal action.