- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut task force aimed at examining police accountability and transparency held its inaugural meeting since being created last summer.

The group, which was created as part of a law passed last June, met Thursday to discuss what topics and goals could be explored in future meetings on topics relating to police interactions with communities like people with mental, physical and intellectual disability and communities of color.

The first meeting also comes after three people were shot and killed by police across the state since the beginning of year.

Daryl McGraw, founder of the criminal justice consulting organization Formerly Inc., co-chairs the 13-member panel that also includes members of law enforcement, legislative appointees and others.

“For me I don’t want to do low-hanging fruit or feel-good stuff, I want to make actual impacts for the state of Connecticut,” McGraw said, “(and) especially in black and brown communities.”

McGraw is also a person who has been formerly incarcerated as well.

“I found myself in and out of the prison system for about 10 years,” he said, adding that after getting out in 2010 he made plans to get a GED and a bachelor’s degree in human services and is a certified addiction counselor.

Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik, a member of the Police Chief’s Association, said he hopes the panel can open dialogue that will lead to better trust between the police and the community.

The creation of the panel was part of a law written last year by state Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, that also requires police officers to turn over dashboard camera or body-worn camera recordings within 96 hours of an event to the public.

It also requires law enforcement agencies to issue an annual report that looks at use-of-force incidents to the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning division within the Office of Policy and Management; and have the Police Officer Standards and Training Council review an annual report on use of firearms in pursuits by police officers.

Originally the task force was supposed to issue a preliminary report at the start of January that could be helpful to the upcoming legislative session that starts Feb. 5. A final report is due at the end of the year.

Shafiq Fulcher Abdussabur, a retired New Haven police sergeant and author of “ Black Man’s Guide to Law Enforcement in America,” said a potential challenge could be finding the issues the community feels are important and overlapping that with what the panel finds is important.

“Trying to find that least common denominator but it being the greatest common denominator for the community is going to be a challenge,” he said. “Let’s find what the greatest common denominator for the community is and meet that threshold.”

McGraw also feels having been a person with lived experiences helps bring reality to the conversation to show what it can really be like for people in communities.

“I think that when I sit in a chair spot and I tell them I was tased five times by a police officer. …I’m having the opportunity to use it as a teaching tool - which is what I do all across the county - I use lived experience as a tool so it makes it more real,” he said.

The next meeting of the panel is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 19.


Chris Ehrmann is a corps member for Report for America, a nonprofit organization that supports local news coverage, in a partnership with The Associated Press for Connecticut. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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