Stratford Police taking right course
It seems like just about every Stratford resident has a solution for the racial tensions — and tensions toward the police department — that has been rearing its ugly head in Stratford this year.
But despite all those opinions, the decision on how to address the problem was entirely up to the Stratford Police Department itself. Their solution is the tested concept called "community policing," and it's off to a laudable start in the town.
It's an idea that was embraced with open arms by Councilman Alvin O'Neal, D-2, a key figure at the center of Stratford's police and racial controversies in recent months.
In March, O'Neal, who is black, was involved in an altercation with Police Officer David Gugliotti, who is white, while Gugliotti was attempting to arrest 15-year-old Stratford resident Titasheen Mitchell, who is also black.
Both Mitchell and O'Neal claimed that the altercation was race-related, an allegation that was eventually found to be baseless by an internal investigation endorsed by Stratford Mayor James Miron.
The mere accusation, though, touched off a painfully frank glimpse into the racial climate — and some would argue divide — in Stratford.
To help ease that climate, Stratford Police have launched a community policing effort, aimed at making their presence known in the community in more positive ways.
One example is "bike rodeo" that took place in Stratford last week. The rodeo was attended by two Stratford bike police officers, who brought their 25-speed bikes and even offered some of the children there free rides — an offer that was met with a fair amount of awe by several youngsters.
Police Chief Michael Imbro hopes that the bike rodeo will be the first of many opportunities for the police department to reach out to the community in the coming months.
Deservedly or not, there's no denying that the police in Stratford will have a tough time reaching out to some town residents. But the concept of community policing is a needed one, and should lead to some much-needed healing of wounds.