Stratford Police win federal grant for de-escalation training


STRATFORD – The police department will receive $ 43,000 from the federal government to continue the work of a de-escalation program that police say is paying dividends in the community.

Stratford is one of two state departments to receive money for de-escalation training in the latest round of grants from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Based Policing (COPS) , which totaled $ 33 million nationally.

Funding is coming to a ministry that has already made tactics a priority through its Police engagement program, designed to teach officers and civilians de-escalation techniques, mutual empathy and how to recognize and deal with implicit biases.

The program – presented through the department’s Police Activities League to dozens of community groups, police departments, colleges and universities – started five years ago and police say it’s working.

For example, in an incident in May, after a reported shooting, a minor with a loaded handgun fled from two detectives who had participated in the program, Alex Torres and Jon Policano. The cops recognized the suspect and were able to arrest him and take him into custody.

Police Chief Joseph McNeil, who recently won a distinguished chef award of the Connecticut Association of Police Commissioners, said the program is paying off.

“I believe the program is making a difference,” he said in an email. “We have been very adept at changing our policing tactics to deal with emerging issues – but it is a combined effort of police, justice and juvenile services that will make the difference.”

During a visit to the department, US Senator Richard Blumenthal said the police engagement program “could be a model for the whole country” and that he would urge the federal justice ministry to support him with additional investment.

Representative Rosa DeLauro wrote a letter of congressional support for Stratford’s grant application to the Department of Justice, indicating that the city “has submitted a strong application that demonstrates its commitment to improving training opportunities for its officers and to strengthening the relationship between the Stratford Police Department and the community serves.

Mayor Laura Hoydick said she was very happy that the federal government recognized the “city’s continued efforts to obtain the latest and best training for our police officers, especially in this extremely important area of ​​de-escalation. so that no one is hurt “.

“Recent events in the country have led law enforcement professionals to research and develop new ways to deal more effectively with people under stress due to encounters with law enforcement or other factors,” Hoydick said in a prepared statement. “The use of de-escalation techniques to resolve and peacefully end the clashes will greatly benefit all parties concerned. The skills have proven useful in a wide range of situations – from motor vehicle stops to appeasing volatile situations with armed suspects.

She credited McNeil for supporting the Police Engagement Program and its slogan “Calm, Cool and Comply” to guide interactions between police and members of the public.

“This training program underscores our commitment to our citizens and to providing the best possible service,” McNeil said.

Announcing the grants last week, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Keeping communities safe requires building relationships and increasing trust between law enforcement and those around it. they serve “.

“It is particularly significant to announce these awards during National Community Policing Week, which recognizes the importance of community policing and the positive results we can achieve when law enforcement and community members work together, ”Garland said in a prepared statement.


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