NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — For the past three years, leading clergy members have met once a month with New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman and other top police officials, making for a partnership that has already helped diffuse some potentially volatile situations.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, both sides talked about the importance of developing a strong relationship between the religious community and law enforcement to prevent any major outbreak of violence like those seen in Baltimore and Ferguson.
“You don’t build relationships in the heat of a crisis, you build them long before and we’ve been building relationships here for years that we trust each other and know each other,” said Chief Esserman.
All of the clergy members have also attended the Citizen’s Police Academy, so they have a better understanding of the challenges officers face on the street.
“A lot of clergy played have played a key role in keeping things under control, talking to families and people in the community,” said Pastor James Newman, New Freedom Missionary Baptist Church.