West Hartford City Council Appoints Diverse Civilian Police Review Board – We-Ha

The names of the members of the West Hartford Civilian Police Review Board were announced at the city council meeting on Tuesday evening and the appointments were formally approved.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford City Council unanimously passed an ordinance establishing a Civilian Police Review Board (CCRP) in February, and Tuesday evening formally appointed seven members and three alternates who will begin their work from July 1, 2021.

“I am really delighted to be able to do this tonight,” Mayor Shari Cantor said on Tuesday.

Cantor noted that in West Hartford, the process of creating the CPRB was initiated by Police Chief Vernon Riddick and City Manager Matt Hart, even before the State General Assembly passed its draft. Landmark law on police accountability that was enacted last summer. With Tuesday night’s appointment, West Hartford becomes one of the first municipalities to have a CPRB in place.

The seven members and three alternates will receive extensive training before they begin their jobs, Cantor said.

Riddick said at last week’s public safety committee meeting that the police department and the company’s attorneys office had been working on the training modules, which are divided into eight categories. The training will likely last around 24 hours over three days, he said, and will include the use of an active firing simulation.

The role of the CPRC will include reviewing the internal investigation of all complaints received by the West Hartford Police Department, and it will also provide City Council with an annual report and policy recommendations.

After reaching out to the community to solicit volunteers to serve on CCRP, there was tremendous interest, with over 80 applications for the positions.

“It was really inspiring to see the interest, the passion, the support from our community, from the police – the real trust and faith that this council would bring to the police accountability process,” Cantor said.

“We were thrilled to bring together a very diverse and qualified group of residents… we were so impressed with the nominations and more impressed with those we chose,” Cantor said.

Members represent a diversity of life experiences and are geographically distributed throughout the city. “I know they are going to really enjoy working with each other… there will be incredible camaraderie,” she said, respecting the police and the law.

“What I’m most happy about is the number of residents who stepped up to the plate once this was announced,” said Carol Blanks, who chairs the city council’s public safety committee. She thanked them for agreeing to serve and noted that the members ultimately selected for CCRP “really complement and represent our city on all sides” and should be able to work collaboratively, listen and be. truly a citizens’ review committee bringing transparency and accountability. to the process and information to the leader.

“I think after all of this hard work we’ve found a really good group of people,” Blanks said.

Minority leader Lee Gold said he appreciated the leader’s work in getting the process started. “We are very fortunate to have so many qualified people who have stepped forward and are volunteering their time in such a meaningful way,” he said.

CPRC members “will help provide a unique perspective on government and law enforcement affairs,” said Mr. Gold. “I know that those selected will serve only in the best interests of the city – in an honest, transparent and non-political manner.”

Riddick and Deputy Chief Larry Terra both attended Tuesday night’s meeting, and Riddick thanked Terra for doing a lot of the groundwork in helping the Town Manager and Council establish the CPRB.

In a statement, Riddick said: The West Hartford Police Department is dedicated to the highest standards of professional excellence and we take all complaints very seriously. We welcome additional civilian oversight and look forward to working with this group to ensure we maintain best practices at all times. “

The CPRP will serve staggered terms.

Veronica Badiola (D) and Robin Kallor (U) will serve until December 31, 2o21.

Adrienne Billings-Smith (D) and Alberto Cortes (R) will serve until December 31, 2022.

Bjorn Burke (U), Nabin Chettri (U) and Olinda Morales (D) will serve until December 31, 2022.

Matthew Horowitz (D) has been appointed alternate until December 31, 2021; Kathleen Costello Hindman (D) will serve as replacement until December 31, 2022; and Gabriela Downey (right) will be a replacement until December 31, 2023.

Their biographies, provided by the City of West Hartford, are below.

Veronica badiola has resided in West Hartford for 27 years. She was a clinician at InterConnections, LLC, a treatment center for clients with short and long term psychiatric conditions. Prior to this position, she was a social worker at the Institute of Living for over 10 years. Badiola has volunteered for the Bridge Family Center, Hillcrest Area Neighborhood Outreach Center and West Hartford Social Services, as well as for Norfeldt School, where she provided translation services as a fluent Spanish speaker and cultural counseling services. .

Adrienne Billings-Smith is a local lawyer and flight attendant. She received her JD in 2013 and has been practicing law in Connecticut since 2014. She is a former high school and college basketball coach and varsity basketball player. Billings-Smith is also the founder and chairman of Concerned Parents of Color in West Hartford and former co-chairman of the West Hartford Commission on Human Rights. She works to make a positive and productive difference in West Hartford.

Bjorn burke emigrated from Jamaica in 2000 and attended the University of Bridgeport where he obtained his degree in finance. Throughout his career he has worked in the not-for-profit, municipal and corporate sectors and is currently Deputy Director of Business and Finance at the Newtown Board of Education. In his role in the banking sector, he is often responsible for conducting due diligence on investors and investment projects. His research focuses on the identification of investors involved in money laundering, terrorist financing or violation of the Patriot Act. Burke volunteered as a college mentor, soccer coach and fundraiser. He is a member of the West Hartford African American Social and Cultural Organization.

Nabin Chettri, originally from the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, moved to West Hartford in 2004 with his wife and two children and is part of a growing Nepalese community in the city. Nabin was a member of the Connecticut Nepal Association Advisory Board. He is an active member of the Lions Club and helps organize their work on behalf of Veterans. He works at Connecticut Distributors Inc. as a sales representative. Working with many companies allowed him to meet people from all walks of life. Chettri graduated from the University of North Bengal, India, in 1988 in economics and history.

Alberto Cortes, a longtime West Hartford resident, retired from the Connecticut State Corrections Department after more than 20 years of service as a correctional officer. During this time, he served as a shop steward for Local 387 and spent six years serving in the Connecticut Army National Guard. Since his retirement he has remained active on his church council, volunteering with the West Hartford Commission on Veterans Affairs, the Greater Hartford Autism Speaks, the Hartford Marathon Foundation and several other organizations.

Robin kallor, founding member of Rose Kallor, LLP, has been a labor and employment lawyer since 1997, specializing in mediation, litigation, advice and training in the private and public sectors. Kallor advises and advocates on issues related to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability discrimination, libel and other work-related tort claims and human resource issues. She obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Hofstra University in 1997. She was appointed Lawyer of the Year 2020,Management union in Hartford through Best Lawyers in America.

Olinda Morales is a Latina lawyer with extensive experience interpreting federal and state confidentiality and privacy laws, as well as labor law, immigration and tax law, and multicultural health. She currently works in the Legal Office of the Connecticut Department of Public Health and for the past 20 years has also operated her private practice, the law firm of Olinda Morales. Morales has served on the city’s Zoning Appeal Board since 2019. She received her Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in May 2000.

Kathleen Costello Hindman is a Children’s Services Consultant with the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families and is an Assistant Professor at Goodwin College. She holds a Masters of Social Work in Policy Practice from the University of Connecticut. Hindman has lived in West Hartford for 25 years. She is trained in restorative justice practices as part of the Office of Policy and Management’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee program, “Effective School Interactions with Students and Police”.

Gabriela downey has been a resident of West Hartford for 25 years and graduated from Conard High School in 2014. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Hartford in 2020 and is the 2019 recipient of the Citizens Service Award West Hartford Police Station. In his role as Assistant Contract Administrator at Collins Aerospace, Downey ensures that terms and conditions as well as compliance are met.

Matthew Horowitz is a partner at Wolf, Horowitz & Etlinger PC, specializing in loyalty and surety claims and litigation since 1990. He previously worked as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union in Houston, TX. Horowitz taught civil procedure at the University of Connecticut Law School. He headed the Civil Law Clinic at the Western New England School of Law, where he was an Associate Professor of Law and taught criminal law, criminal procedure and legal skills. He has been involved in litigation regarding law enforcement crowd control practices in Connecticut and Houston.

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