The Darien Police Commission now has one less member, as per Friday, June 20.

Thomas Joyce has just resigned from the commission as a result of some tweets he described as “insensitive” that he made on his personal Twitter account.

Police accountability initiatives

In light of recent events in the news related to concerns about policing around the U.S., the Darien Police Commission spoke at length about its police accountability initiatives at its June 17 meeting.

Darien Police Chief Don Anderson said the department is and has been “beyond the curve and ahead of the game” when it comes to police accountability.

“Through our accreditation process, most, if not all, of the things that are being called for by various different agencies from the president on down, the Darien Police Department already does,” Anderson said.

He said that across the country, many people are calling for a ban on chokeholds.

This relates to the recent death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in custody after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, as captured on video.

“We have banned chokeholds years and years and years ago, specifically, by our general orders because it is proper professional policing, not that it was ever called for for anyone,” he said. “We did it because it’s the right thing to do.”

In regard to police accountability initiatives in general, Anderson said the department is working with the NAACP, the state’s attorney, protesters and organizers.

“We’re willing to have those conversations where we can explain our positions,” Anderson said. “If there’s things that we need to address, we will address them, but I think our general orders have put us ahead of the curve and we are doing most, if not all, of what is being requested.”

Additionally, he said the Darien Police Department has been accredited for at least three terms of three years each, for professional accreditation.

“This is voluntary,” he said. “It’s all best practices for a professional law enforcement organization. It assures that you’re operating within constitutional guidelines. It operates that you are fair and impartial. It confirms that we are doing everything that we are supposed to be doing to ensure that we’re giving a professional service to the public, free of bias and free of anything outside constitutional guidelines.”

In regard to the department’s position on positional asphyxia, Anderson said the “importance of getting the person up off their stomach as soon as possible to get them in a position to where they can breathe — this is not something new for the Darien Police Department. We have been training our officers on this for decades.”

He added while the Darien Police Department will protect itself and enforce the law, it always operates in a professional manner.

“That includes maintaining the sanctity of life and not having anyone come under harm when they’re under our control,” he said.

Additionally, he said officers are not looking to use force.

“We’d rather not use any force by getting in compliance,” Anderson said. “The best outcome is going to happen with no force being used.”

The commission is compiling a list of frequently asked questions in regard to the topic of police accountability initiatives, and will post answers on its website when completed.

This list will include the functions of the Darien Police Department and its rules.

“It will be useful to all that this is all in one place, so if people do have questions, they can start by going to our website,” Commissioner Kim Huffard said.

For more information, visit darienpolice.org.

COVID-19 update

The last confirmed case of the coronavirus in Darien was May 29.

Beaches and boating have been busy, according to police. There has also been lots of biking, jogging, walking.

Additionally, to date, no Darien Police Department staff, sworn or civilian, has tested positive for COVID-19.

All of the services at the police station that were put on hold or limited are now back in their full capacity.

Votes, approvals

The Police Commission unanimously voted to endorse the reappointment of Tokeneke Constable Kathy Conlin for another two-year term.

It also unanimously approved step increases for Lt. Nick Aranzullo, Sgt. Derek Mulcahy, and Sgt. Daniel Skoumbros.

The commission unanimously approved a request from the police gift fund in the amount of $900 for enameled award bars to be given out to officers who earned them.

Wall of Chiefs plaques

In a unanimous motion, the commission allocated $1,000 for each of the three surviving Darien police chiefs to receive a plaque containing their photograph and bio. There is a matching plaque of each of all chiefs on a wall at the department.

The money will come out of the gift fund.

Every time policemen retire, they should receive a plaque for themselves to take home.

There have been 11 Darien police chiefs in the 95 years that the Darien Police Department has existed, including Anderson.

The next Darien Police Commission meeting is July 1.

Watch the Darien Police Commission meeting on Darien TV/79.

sfox@darientimes.com