STAMFORD, Conn. — In an effort to finds ways the federal government can help improve relationships between the community and police, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) held a roundtable discussion at the Stamford Government Center on Wednesday morning.
Blumenthal said the meeting was “not just talk; it’s also resources." The federal government can support local efforts for better police training, more equipment such as body cameras, and better standards for the reporting of violent crimes, he said.
But efforts to increase trust between police departments and the residents also come down to officers' community policing efforts, he said.
Blumenthal praised Stamford for its tradition of leading community policing “in a way that we don’t see in other parts of the country."
Stamford has several community policing programs, according to Stamford Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau.
A truancy and at-risk program has served 30 families this year with mentoring and counseling, Fontneau said. And a juvenile review board has resolved 52 juvenile cases without arrest records that could damage juveniles' future work and education opportunities.
The department also runs a regular home visitation program to victims of domestic violence to make sure offenders have not reappeared at victims’ homes, Fontneau said.
Several community members at the meeting praised the city for having positive relations with the community. But multiple speakers called for more casual interactions between community members — particular children — and police officers.
But Blumenthal said improving relations between officers and members of the community is not limited to community policing efforts.
“Police community relations can’t be seen in a vacuum,” Blumenthal said. “We also need to talk about jobs, education, economic opportunities, which is at the core of some of the urban problems that we have.”
During the meeting, Blumenthal also called for tighter gun control, advocating for stronger stronger background checks, bans on straw purchases and the elimination of gun maker immunity. “Gun violence is still a scourge that needs to be fought,” he said.
Blumenthal has held several other roundtables in Connecticut cities over the past few weeks, including Waterbury, Norwalk, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford.