Darien’s Chief of Police, Donald Anderson, issued a letter to the Darien community about the department’s standards on Wednesday. The letter follows a meeting with Fairfield County police chiefs, state prosecutors and the Norwalk Chapter of the NAACP Tuesday night. Read more about that here.

This letter was accompanied by a FAQ document, which you can read here. Some of the questions and answers included what is being done to educate officers on racial profiling and racial bias.

“As part of the three year POST-C re-certification process, all police officers in the state of Connecticut must complete a mandated block of instruction in the areas of Racial Profiling, Bigotry and Bias. Racial profiling is prohibited by law in the State of Connecticut. Our officers are effectively trained in this area,” the document said.

Questions also were answered about the use of excessive force, whether officers are required to intervene if they see a fellow officer use excessive force, and whether such actions are investigated. According the department’s policy, all officers are expected to intervene, and any incidents are reported.

“Our General Orders reflect that merely handcuffing a compliant subject is considered a use of force and is fully documented in the incident report,” the document said.

The Darien Police also responded to the #8CantWait campaign with how the department handles the eight changes that are listed below. Read more about that campaign here.

“Recent events in our country have led to the creation of a “Campaign Zero” initiative which was designed to assist law enforcement agencies in reducing use of force incidents. I would like to clearly state where the Darien, CT Police Department stands on these Eight That Can’t Wait,” they said.

The ‘8’ that can’t wait include: ban chokeholds and strangleholds, require de-escalation, require warning before shooting, require exhaust all at alternatives before shooting, duty to intervene, ban shooting at motor vehicles, require use of force continuum, and require comprehensive reporting. Read the full response here.

The full letter from the Chief Donald Anderson is here:

To the Darien community:

While it may be a massive understatement, 2020 has certainly been a year of unexpected circumstances and events in our town, across our country and around the world. Enduring months on end of a viral pandemic and managing the social distancing, stay at home requirements and business shutdowns has certainly taken a toll on most of us. For all the life events that needed to be postponed or canceled altogether, we all share a measure of sadness at the (hopefully temporary) loss of our “regular life.” On top of all this, we have now had numerous tragic incidents across our nation where it is clear that many citizens are demanding systemic change. Most of us have seen the videos from these recent incidents and are justly and rightly outraged.

The Darien, Connecticut Police Department is a professional, accredited and highly trained organization made up of caring and engaged officers and support staff. The following is the long standing mission statement of our agency. These are not mere words and platitudes; the staff of this department strive diligently to always fulfill these values. Our Department remains steadfast in our complete commitment to fair, balanced and reasonable law enforcement and public safety initiatives. We stand for protecting the rights of all residents and visitors to the Town of Darien.

“The mission of the Darien Police Department is to work cooperatively with the public and within the framework of the Constitution to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide a safe environment in our neighborhoods. The Darien Police Department exists to serve the community by protecting life and property; by preventing crime; by enforcing the laws; and by maintaining order for all people. Central to our mission are the values which guide our work and decisions. These help us contribute to the high quality of life in Darien. The public trust and confidence given to those in the police service requires the adoption and compliance of stated values, which are the foundation upon which our policies, goals, and operations are built.

a. We value human life and dignity, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

b. We believe that integrity is the basis for community trust.

c. We respect the principles which are embodied in the Constitution of the United States.

d. We recognize the authority of federal, state, and local laws.

e. We strive for personal and professional excellence.

f. We are accountable to the people of the community and to each other.

g. We believe that cooperation with the community and the members of our organization will enable us to combine our diverse backgrounds, skills, and styles to achieve common goals beneficial to the community and the Darien Police Department.

h. We are most effective when we can identify and solve community problems.

i. We are dedicated, caring, and capable people who are performing important and satisfying work for the people of the Town of Darien.”

The recognition and statement of values by a police department is extremely important. These values are the foundation of everything for which we stand and believe in. The leadership of the Darien Police Department has the expectation that members of the Department will adhere to the highest ethical standards and provide honorable, consistent and lawful service to all residents and visitors to the Town of Darien.

Our officers come from all walks of life and undergo a rigorous screening and background process. They are highly trained and educated; we hire quality officers who then are monitored and mentored closely throughout their career. We train our officers to a high standard in all aspects of professional public safety, but notably in Fair and Impartial Policing, Bias Free Policing and De-escalation techniques. Our officers treat people, residents and visitors alike, with respect and dignity. I will not accept anything less and the public should not be expected to either.

The Darien Police Department has been a professional police agency for the almost 37 years that I have been employed here. In that time, the department has operated lawfully, reasonably and honorably. Do we always get it right? No, we don’t. Have we made errors? Yes, we have. But when we don’t get it right, we look to fix responsibility, address the problem forthrightly and quickly make it “as right” as possible.

Here is a factual truth as I know it; training for police officers across our country varies greatly. The training that officers get in Connecticut, both when they are hired and throughout their career, is exponentially better than in most other states. If you are a certified police officer in good standing in the State of Connecticut, you can move to virtually any other state in the United States and obtain employment as a police officer. Many police incidents with negative outcomes, where people are perhaps hurt or killed, do not happen here with the same frequency, largely due to the standards for training. Are we immune to it? Certainly not. Are we better trained and therefore in a better position to bring about a positive outcome? Yes, we clearly are, in my estimation.

We think it is important to be proactively engaged with many community groups across our region well before we have an issue or problem. We always look to be engaged and be part of the “solution.” We will continue to strive to be better tomorrow than we were today, to be more responsive as the world evolves around us, and to always be open to reasonable dialogue and a spirit of mutual cooperation.

Our nation has thousands upon thousands of professional police officers who do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. For the vast majority, dedication to duty is not for fame or glory, but is simply the calling of a professional public servant. Those officers operating outside of training, basic human decency and professional conduct are in the vast minority. We always strive to do our very best, and I am exceedingly proud of the service that the officers of the Darien Police Department provide to our community each and every day.

Donald B. Anderson

Chief of Police