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Federal Government Settles with East Haven Police over Latino Harassment

On Tuesday, federal officials agreed to a settlement with the East Haven police over an investigation that found East Haven police of harassing Latinos. Under the settlement, the town has agreed to put police officers through 32 hours of training on bias-free policing and effective community engagement every year. The settlement agreement mentions, “Discriminatory policing, in the form of either selective enforcement or non-enforcement of the law … is prohibited by this policy.”

The DOJ had launched an investigation in 2009 into complaints that the town’s officers targeted and harassed Latinos and singled them out for excessive force. Latinos were also stopped more frequently at traffic stops and the police force retaliated against people who complained about discrimination.

The U.S. attorney at Connecticut, David Fein, said “This agreement will provide the men and women of (the East Haven Police Department) with the necessary support and guidance they need to fulfill their duties in a manner that protects public safety and upholds individuals’ civil rights.”

Court documents filed by the DOJ show that the East Haven police routinely and unconstitutionally made unreasonable searches against Hispanics and denied them equal treatment under the law. East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, released a statement last month following the preliminary settlement, commenting, “It is my hope that with this agreement, a new era of cooperation between the Town, the (Justice Department), our citizens and our police force will be the result.”

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In a separate investigation in January, four members of the town’s police department had been arrested by the FBI and charged with making false arrests and false reports, injuring, threatening, and intimidating citizens of Hispanic origin.

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