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June 9, 2020

Elicker says he won’t ‘defund’ city police

PHOTO | New Haven BIZ On Friday an estimated 5,000 people gathered on the New Haven Green and marched to police headquarters at 1 Union Ave. in a mainly peaceful protest. Among the protestors was Mayor Elicker.

Mayor Justin Elicker isn’t prepared to “defund” or disband the New Haven Police Department — at least not yet.

“I think the vision of a world where we don’t need police is a good one, and something we should work toward,” Elicker told a media briefing Monday afternoon. “In many ways the traditional [role] of policing is addressing the symptoms and not the problem, because the roots are around economic inequality, mental health, substance abuse, systemic racism and so many other issues. And so supporting social services rather than policing is a good vision.”

However, “I wouldn’t go as far as to say we should abolish policing, or completely defund policing” Elicker added. “We get over 100,000 calls a year requesting police [assistance], so while I think it’s important to have a deep conversation about the role of police, I think it’s too far for us to go to simply defund the police.”

In the wake of nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer (since arrested and charged with second-degree murder) a movement has gained traction in some cities to “defund” police departments as instruments of oppression. The most radical example of this occurred in Minneapolis, where a majority of city council members told a crowd Sunday of their intention to “begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

On Friday an estimated 5,000 people gathered on the New Haven Green and marched to police headquarters at 1 Union Ave. in a mainly peaceful protest. Among the protestors was Mayor Elicker. “I thought it was inspiring,” the mayor said.

“I want to look forward,” the mayor said. “It’s important for me to be present — even if there are some signs or slogans I don’t agree with.”

Also during Monday’s briefing, Elicker announced that he had signed a rescission of his earlier executive order restricting gatherings of 10 or more people, to take effect June 14. “I wanted to make sure that we brought [the city] in line with the governor’s orders, and it looks like from a safety perspective, this is the right decision as well,” the mayor said.

As of June 6 the latest “guidance” from the office of Gov. Ned Lamont restricts social and recreational gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Religious gatherings may include larger numbers as long as social distancing is practiced.

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