Pubdate: 22 Jun 1999
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: Anthony Griego


Letter to the Editor

I would like to respond to the article written by former Police Chief
Nicholas Pastore. His article was based on common misinformation about
what emergency services teams do.

After almost 32 years of service with the New Haven Police Department,
I retired recently, so I speak with personal knowledge.

Emergency services teams are specifically equipped and trained to deal
with high-risk situations. Officers are trained to deal with
barricaded subjects, with or without hostages, and terrorist
situations. And, yes, if information was available that a drug house
had heavy weapons, a team could be used to enter. Unfortunately most
times, drug enforcement officers will put on a protective vest and
enter a high-risk situation without any emergency services training.

Pastore made one statement that is very misleading and inflammatory -
"communities throughout the country - not just big cities, but small
cities - have formed SWAT teams, cops dressed up as soldiers to bust
down doors and fly into housing projects in search of drugs."

First, before cops fly anywhere, they must convince a judge that drugs
are on the property. Why the reference to housing projects? Who would
Pastore send into Columbine High? A beat cop would be ill prepared to
deal with what took place there.

Emergency services units do have a purpose and most teams pride
themselves on the fact that in most operations they make the
apprehension without any injuries.

Pastore goes on to say that we should call off the drug war. He needs
to ask the communities that suffer from the drug trade if we should
call off the war. I don't like the term "drug war," because I see it
as a cancer. A cancer that eats into neighborhoods and destroys them.

I worked with a dedicated group of community people on the
Newhallville Management Team to help rid their neighborhood of this
cancer. A community can start to heal only when there is a strong
partnership between the community and its police officers.

Pastore should be commended for bringing community policing to New
Haven and for his work with Dr.Ronald Cohen of the Yale Child Study 
Center in establishing the Child Development-Community Policing Program.

Unfortunately, Pastore, unlike his predecessor, William Farrell, never
recognized the need for a well trained, well equipped emergency
services team. Pastore could have helped the community more, but in my
opinion he disliked one half of the partnership and in his writings it
is apparent to me which half that is.

Anthony Griego
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