The Day – Residents call for answers after news of the inclusion of the former New London Police Chief is picked up
New London – Several parishioners at a city council meeting on Tuesday called for answers on how much and when councilors and the mayor knew about a secretly recorded audio from former police chief Peter Reichard.
Mayor Michael Passero replied that the matter had been treated “as a personnel matter” and was adequately handled at the time and that it was not intended to mislead anyone about the inclusion.
Reichard resigned on May 26 after Mayor Michael Passero presented him with a transcript of Reichard’s statements, including: “The politics in this (powerful) little town are worse than anywhere else I have ever seen” and that he was in his Career was passed over for promotions because he was white. A police officer from New London is said to have taken the picture secretly.
For a July 1 article, Passero said he heard the recording but not a copy of it. Councilor Curtis Goodwin told The Day that he knew about the audio recording but had not yet heard it. Goodwin and Efrain Dominguez also said they knew of no council members who heard the recording.
Five parishioners sought transparency at Tuesday’s meeting about what officials knew at the time of the last city council meeting on June 21.
In written comments, Kris Wraight, a former member of the Police Community Relations Committee, urged elected officials “to explain to New London residents why you are not aware of the racist and disrespectful transcript leading to Chief Reichard’s retirement?” And why Reichard was allowed to retire, saying sources said “NAACP President Jean Jordan and Vice President Tammy Lanier alerted both the mayor and several councilors to a transcript of the racist audio.”
In written comments read at the meeting, Kat Goulart, Chair of the New London Republican Town Committee, urged councilors and the Mayor to clarify what she said on the recording, as she said at the last council meeting: Mayor said unequivocally that they didn’t know about the recording, had only heard rumors and weren’t sure why the public was so upset. “
However, Goulart said the July 1 article revealed that the comments were brought to Passero’s attention almost a month earlier.
“We have heard each and every one of you preaching transparency and accountability at one point or another, but how will anyone believe you when you tell us one thing, tell reporters differently, and tell each other a third version?” She said in her written comments. “On behalf of the residents of the City of New London, I ask every councilor, without exception, to tell the truth about what they knew and when, in response to public statements, without playing semantics and puns. I ask the mayor to do the same in his mayor report. Anything other than a clarification on file in the name of accountability is just disrespectful. “
Resident Michael Sousa asked if anyone knew about the recording before people brought it to the attention of the council at the June 21st meeting. “We deserve to know.”
Passero said the city responded immediately to the recording. Standing by The Day’s report on the matter, he said his comments at the last council meeting did not contradict history. He said his comments at the June 21 meeting mainly concerned other rumors linked to the release of the audiotape that the NAACP presented to him in late May.
“When we received this tape and the really racist insensitive comment, along with other unflattering comments about the city, we met with the employee and he gave up his post and that was the end. It was a personnel issue, it was resolved by giving up the individual, “he said.” It didn’t seem to give me a proper way to really move on. From the point of view of the city administration, the matter has been closed. “
“Well, the fact that the tape was out there – not under our control, it was reported to us – there were obviously additional consequences that could arise, but I didn’t think it was really my responsibility to the city with the revelations further embarrassment “at the time, so I definitely apologize to any member of the community who feels misled, but that was certainly not the intention at any point,” he said. “It was handled as a personnel matter and I believe it was handled appropriately at the time.”
Councilor John Satti replied that he had no knowledge of the tape prior to the June 21 meeting and still had not seen the transcript, although he said he planned to apply to the city attorney to do so.
Councilor James Burke, who posted on Facebook that he will prioritize calls for more police accountability in the future, said at the meeting on Tuesday that he had not responded to any comments from the last council meeting as he was like many others in the community had only heard “hearsay” about the incident.
Alderman Kevin Booker Jr. said, as he announced during the recent council meeting, the first time he heard of the incident on social media was on June 19. He said he looks forward to moving forward in our great city so this will never happen, never happen again. “
Goodwin pointed out that “having knowledge and actually having evidence are two completely different things”. Sticking to his comments on The Day, he said he knew the tapes personally but didn’t have access to them, didn’t hear them or read a transcript so he couldn’t have done too much at the time. He said he had never misled the public or failed to tell the truth.
He said the public deserves transparency and the council is accountable to the public.
“We are limited in some of our answers to what we can do, but at no point are we tireless in our struggle to change New London and make it better,” he said.
Day Staff Writer Greg Smith contributed to this report.