NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — In January, a protest in Naugatuck showed anger and concern over private messages on Snapchat by the police chief’s teenaged daughter that was made public.
Wednesday, we saw the concern flare up again. News 8 — the only Connecticut news team at Naugatuck Town Hall after a meeting between officials of the Greater Waterbury NAACP and the mayor, deputy police chief, superintendent of schools and others.
The NAACP had been investigating attitudes in Naugatuck since those Snapchat messages came to light. Many in town speaking out on Facebook debating whether they were a reflection of the girl’s parents — one who’s the police chief and the other who’s an associate principal at Naugatuck High School.
The president of the Greater Waterbury NAACP is Ginne-Rae Clay. She told News 8 the intention of the report was never to determine whether Chief Steven Hunt should be fired.
“Our investigation did not find that Chief Hunt violated department policy related to this matter. However, the culture of the Naugatuck Police Department is reported to be that of a dictatorship that manages by fear and intimidation. And threats of retaliation,” she said. “The main finding of the report is the town of Naugatuck has work to do around equity and inclusion.”
Mayor Pete Hess, who often brags about his borough being “Naugatuck Strong” — says addressing equity and inclusion could only make Naugatuck stronger. He called the meeting today positive and constructive.
“We are recommending that the minor child issue an apology– a public apology,” said Ginne-Rae Clay. “We are recommending that the town hire what we’re calling a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer that can work with the residents on a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee… so that residents can speak out openly and fairly about the concerns.”
That could mean a series of community meetings dealing with diversity. Mayor Hess is onboard.
“A thousand percent,” he said.
He acknowledges racism is a problem in our country and has become an issue in Naugatuck. He hopes to do what he can to bring the community together stronger than its ever been before.
“We are totally united on implementing the recommendations and working on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” he said.
As for Chief Hunt, the mayor also acknowledges he’s had a serious chat with him to get his house in order.
“I have made him keenly aware,” the mayor said.