New Haven police chief hosts first public safety forums

New Haven's new police chief participated in a public safety meeting on Thursday.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 15, 2022 at 7:26 AM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - After a man ended up paralyzed while in police custody, New Haven’s new police chief and its mayor planned a series of town hall meetings across the Elm City.

The first of three public safety forums around the city was held at Hill Regional Career High School Thursday evening.

People in New Haven were given the chance to have a give-and-take with Mayor Justin Elicker and new chief Karl Jacobson.

“I’d like to know why it’s taken so long for an incident like this to come to the forefront and for something to be done about it?,” asked Aaron Darden, a New Haven resident.

Last week, the city rolled out several new steps and procedures as a direct result of how officers handled the arrest of Randy Cox.

Cox was paralyzed when the transport van he was in stopped abruptly to avoid a crash.

“They never said you needed seatbelts,” Jacobson said in response to Darden’s question. “They said you need some sort of device that people can hold onto via handcuff. So if somebody is handcuffed, they could grab the loops with their hands. Obviously, that wasn’t the right fix. That was the wrong. We needed to go to seatbelts.”

The new orders included making marked cruisers the standard when it came to transporting suspects, adding seatbelts to its vans, and requiring officers to ask a series of questions, described as “Medical Miranda Rights.”

At the time, Elicker and Jacobson announced that they would also hold three town halls to give residents a chance to hear directly from them on the new initiatives, but also to give them a chance to share their thoughts on the incident that involved Cox. They also had the chance to share suggestions and questions about how to improve public safety in the city.

Elicker called it important to regularly engage with the community in as many different ways as possible. After the last few weeks in the city following the incident with Cox, he said the meetings were needed.

“While Chief Jacobson has been in the community for years and years, he live in the community, but he’s also been working for the community, he’s never been in this role as chief of the New Haven police, so I’m sure he’s already seeing things through a different lens and the community is seeing him in a different way now as the leader of the department,” Elicker said.

The other two meetings will be held:

  • Tuesday, July 26 at 6 p.m. at Family Academy of Multilingual Exploration (FAME) (255 Blatchley Ave.)
  • Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. at James Hillhouse High School (480 Sherman Ave.)
Public safety discussion held by police in New Haven
New police chief in New Haven hosts public safety forums