OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) — Protesters say they want changes to the Old Saybrook Police Department — a community that has an alleged history of bullying and intimidation.
“It really struck a nerve,” says Laura Gray, Old Saybrook Police Review. Gray is talking about a Facebook post from Colleen Roy, who says on Saturday her special needs brother was badgered and harassed by Old Saybrook police looking for someone who stole a street sign.
Roy writes she tried telling officers her brother has Down syndrome and doesn’t drive or have a license. She says at least four officers in four patrol cars responded, including the chief of police.
“We were incensed. I mean…we just…that was it. We just bubbled over.”
Gray, who says her own children have had run in a with officers in the past, says community members have complained of over-policing and aggressive tactics for years.
“In this case, we’re afraid of the police department. They’ve made the town less safe because people who need them are afraid to call them.”
In an updated post, the Roy family says officers and the first selectmen apologized to them privately. And in a statement, the Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut says it appreciates OSPD for its swift apology and willingness to learn.
The association says it’ll be working with officers and the state police accountability task force to focus on police training for dealing with people with special needs.
As for Gray and rally organizers, they believe the department’s apology is little more than damage control.
“We want to create awareness. We need police accountability. We need oversight.”