United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch was in Connecticut on Tuesday to highlight innovative policing practices.
Lynch attended a round table discussion in East Haven to promote the national community policing tour.
Her visit with the East Haven Police Department comes after four of its officers were indicted for violating the civil rights of the town's Latino residents.
Lynch praised the changed within the department.
"They've changed how they've patrolled,” Lynch said. “They're outside of their cars, walking around more. Part of their job is to interact and learn who the residents of East Haven are."
Members of the Latino community in East Haven also attended the meeting.
"Hopefully things keep changing. Things get better, now for the future of the Spanish community,” Elio Cruz, who is a community organizer, said.
In 2011, the justice department found dour officers engaged in discriminatory policing against Latinos, and violating their civil rights.
"It's our hope cities that are still struggling with the issues, will look at East Haven and take heart and see that in fact things can improve,” Lynch said.
Following the indictment, the justice department stepped in to transform the department. They focused on procedures, policies, training.
"We are not done with what we started,” East Haven Police Chief Brent Larrabee said.
Larrabee said that since 2012, half of the 53 officers in his department are new. It means a younger, more diverse department.
"We are the average police department and if we can do it and everyone can do it,” Larrabee said.
For cities dealing with similar problems, the attorney general stresses East Haven can be a model.
"They want to be a police officers that people turn to for help as opposed to look upon to fear,” Lynch said. “They've made that commitment and have lived up to that commitment."
Tuesday’s visit is part of Lynch’s community policing tour, the attorney general will be in Pittsburgh next month.
As for East Haven, its mayor and police chief will head to Washington DC on Thursday for a forum with the attorney general at the White House.
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