Justice for All: A changing mindset may be key to reform
One local police chief believes changing the mindset of police officers is at the heart of any potential reform initiatives.
Fairfield Police Chief Bob Kalamaras says over the past year — since the murder of George Floyd — many police officers have begun leaving the profession.
"While it has been challenging to get new recruits, it gives us an opportunity to change the mindset of new officers into a guardian mindset as opposed to a warrior mindset,” says Kalamaras.
Kalamaras and Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick say the world has changed, and so must policing.
“I’ve been impressed with the leadership of Chief Kalamaras, and the changes he is making within the department,” says Kupchick.
“Meaningful change takes time, but our police department is poised to succeed because we have the right person leading it. I have no doubt the Fairfield Police Department will continue to serve our community with integrity,” says Kupchick.
One change Kalamaras says he’s proud of is his department’s growing reliance on mental health professionals to respond to some types of emergencies.
“Police officers just don’t have the training that mental health professionals do,” says Kalamaras. “That’s why mental health professionals are better equipped to deal with some situations.”
The Fairfield Police Department has made a symbolic change in the redesign of its official police patch — the one officers wear on their uniforms.
The old patch depicted a Native American greeting a white settler.
“The old patch had some divisive connotations to it, so we changed it to include more inclusive and enduring themes — ones that more accurately reflect the values we embrace and celebrate today,” says Kalamaras.
Reporting and text by Frank Recchia