Po­lice to re­ceive more crowd-con­trol train­ing

Goal is to avoid chaos at protests

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Este­ban Her­nan­dez

NEW HAVEN — Po­lice of­fi­cers will soon re­ceive ad­di­tional crowd-con­trol train­ing in an ef­fort to en­hance their cur­rent prac­tices fol­low­ing a surge in pub­lic de­mon­stra­tions in the city and across the coun­try.

New Haven po­lice spokesman Of­fi­cer David Hart­man said 45 of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing four sergeants and one lieu­tenant, will re­ceive ad­di­tional crowd­con­trol train­ing. Hart­man said pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional train­ing for of­fi­cers re­sults from the in­crease in de­mon­stra­tions start­ing last year, many of which can be traced back to pro­test­ers de­nounc­ing the rise and sub­se­quent elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last Novem­ber.

At a demon­stra­tion on the Green in July that drew counter-pro­test­ers, three peo­ple were ar­rested on mis­de­meanor dis­or­derly con­duct charges and one per­son was is­sued a sum­mons.

Hart­man said he did not have de­tails about what the train­ing would en­tail since the train­ing hasn’t started. He said the sergeants — who each will be lead­ing a team of 10 po­lice of­fi­cers — and a lieu­tenant, will be go­ing out-of-state to learn the new train­ing likely very soon. The higher rank­ing of­fi­cers will then train the re­main­ing 40 of­fi­cers in­volved.

Po­lice Chief An­thony Camp­bell said the depart­ment would even­tu­ally like to have a quar­ter of the depart­ment trained with the ad­di­tional crowd con­trol mea­sures, or a to­tal of about 100 of­fi­cers. The train­ing will in­clude ac­quir­ing ad­di­tional tools used in crowd con­trol mea­sures such as ba­tons, hel­mets, shields, larger can­is­ters of pep­per spray and mega­phones, Camp­bell said.

As the num­ber of de­mon­stra­tions in­creased na­tion­wide and in New Haven, Camp­bell said the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants in the de­mon­stra­tions grew as well. New Haven has a long his­tory of mostly peace­ful de­mon­stra­tions held down­town, and city po­lice have of­ten been known to pro­tect those demon­strat­ing by stop­ping or rerout­ing traf­fic.

“The real­ity is, I hope these of­fi­cers never have to uti­lize this train­ing,” Camp­bell said.

How­ever, he said, “We’d rather take charge and pro­vide them with the train­ing and equip­ment that they need.”

The new train­ing will make crowd con­trol re­sponse “more ef­fec­tive,” Hart­man said, adding it will en­sure the safety of of­fi­cers and cit­i­zens.

The train­ing will build upon what of­fi­cers al­ready learn in the academy, Hart­man said. The new train­ing will pro­vide more uni­for­mity among of­fi­cers who are tasked with crowd con­trol. The train­ing will en­hance de-es­ca­la­tion tac­tics Hart­man said were “pi­o­neered” by New Haven po­lice.

“Ev­ery cop now has worked events (and ) done crowd con­trol,” Hart­man said. “The prob­lem is if you don’t es­tab­lish a sys­tem where peo­ple are on the same page. … You end up with chaos.”

“This is a chaos elim­i­na­tion ef­fort,” Hart­man added.

There have been at least two large-scale de­mon­stra­tions in the city this year that re­sulted in ar­rests of de­mon­stra­tors or par­tic­i­pants — an ano­maly by New Haven stan­dards in pre­vi­ous years. There are other, sit-in de­mon­stra­tions — in­clud­ing the ar­rest of 23 Yale Univer­sity stu­dents whose charges were later dropped — that may not in­volve march­ing but have led to ar­rests.

In fact, be­fore a Feb. 4 demon­stra­tion de­nounc­ing Trump, no one had been ar­rested dur­ing pre­vi­ous march­ing de­mon­stra­tions af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tion. Two men were ar­rested dur­ing the Feb. 4 demon­stra­tion, which in­volved de­mon­stra­tors block­ing a high­way ramp. One ar­rest was made by Con­necti­cut State Po­lice while an­other was made by New Haven po­lice.

The July 8 sched­uled event in­volved the group called the Proud Boys on the city Green and turned vi­o­lent, re­sult­ing in New Haven po­lice ar­rest­ing three and is­su­ing one sum­mons on-scene.

Camp­bell said this in­ci­dent “so­lid­i­fied” the depart­ment’s need for ad­di­tional train­ing.

New Haven at­tor­ney Pa­tri­cia Kane has rep­re­sented 14 pro­test­ers in New Haven in­volved in de­mon­stra­tions from Fe­bru­ary through July. She orig­i­nally rep­re­sented both men ar­rested and charged dur­ing Fe­bru­ary’s protest. Kane was not present dur­ing July’s demon­stra­tion but said she saw video footage of the ar­rest of one in­di­vid­ual dur­ing July’s demon­stra­tion on the Green.

“They were not en­gaged in any ac­tiv­ity that jus­ti­fied an ar­rest,” Kane said. “But two peo­ple did as­sault two of the Proud Boys … that was un­char­ac­ter­is­tic vi­o­lence. New Haven protests are known for be­ing non­vi­o­lent.”

Kane al­leged po­lice ar­rived late to the scene and added: “There should have been bar­ri­ers sep­a­rat­ing the group.”

Kane said she would like New Haven po­lice to adopt rec­om­men­da­tions from Po­lice Ex­ec­u­tive Re­search Fo­rum, a non­profit po­lice re­search and pol­icy or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Hart­man said the depart­ment’s de­ci­sion on train­ing was largely based on last year’s protests; he said there were more de­mon­stra­tions in the past year than he had ever seen in the past 23 years as an of­fi­cer.

Hart­man said they have heard com­ments from “ca­reer pro­test­ers” over po­lice re­sponse, though he said the depart­ment is not in­ter­ested in “their in­sis­tence that they’re al­lowed to do what they’re do­ing.” He fur­ther added that he wants to re­mind peo­ple that the New Haven Po­lice Depart­ment isn’t associated with Pres­i­dent Trump or the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, in that they have no say in poli­cies en­acted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Peo­ple do not have the right to dis­obey the law­ful or­der of a po­lice of­fi­cer,” Hart­man said. “You have a right to voice your opin­ions. You have a right to wave your signs, even yell at the top of (your) lung(s). What you don’t have is the right to in­fringe on other peo­ple’s right.”

Peter Hviz­dak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

“A Day With­out Im­mi­grants” marchers walk from the New Haven Green from a Rally onto Church Street en route to Fair Haven in New Haven on May 1, protest­ing the United States’ im­mi­gra­tion and al­leged ‘ex­ploita­tion’ poli­cies.

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