News reports have surfaced this morning that officers in the East Haven, Connecticut, police department have been arrested by the FBI for racial profiling and abuse of hispanics in their community. In one report, they were called “bullies with badges.” According to the previously linked Huffington Post report, the officers targeted and terrorized hispanic arrestees and business owners, whether they were undocumented or not. A New York Times report shows that the Mayor stands by his department, stating that all the officers are innocent until proven guilty.
Now, as a criminal defense lawyer, I can agree with such position. But what I cannot agree with is the Mayor’s total disregard for the seriousness of the allegations in his town. I was shocked this morning when I heard, on the CNN show “Starting Point” with Soledad O’Brien, a portion of a taped interview given by the East Haven Mayor, Joe Maturo. When the reporter pointed out to the Mayor that in his police department of 50 officers, not one is Hispanic, Maturo sarcastically responded, “and your point is? . . . “ The reporter, undaunted, also asked Mayor Maturo what he was going to be doing for the Hispanic community. Maturo’s response? “I might have tacos when I go home, I’m not quite sure yet.” Wow. Tacos.
For local news reports, and to listen to the Mayor’s comments, click here and here. Maturo later apologized for the remark, blaming his insensitivity on the fact that the interview was his 12th or 13th of the day, and that the comments were made late in the day.