Former Mayor April Capone says the U.S. Department of Justice's findings that members of the and discrimination against Latino residents is an unfortunate, but not unexpected, outcome.
"We knew what the Justice Department was investigating," Capone told East Haven Patch in a phone interview today. "So, it's no surprise."
Capone — who lost last month's re-election attempt by a handful of votes to returning and current Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. — said she was aware of the nature and certain aspects of the Justice Department's investigation, but was not allowed to comment on the case while it was ongoing.
Because of this, she said, others attempted to fill that information gap with "rumors" and false information suggesting that the Justice Department's investigation was not as serious at it was.
"This is very serious... to hear anyone deny this is a problem or an issue with the police department is frightening," Capone said of officers engaging in racial discrimination against Latino residents.
In October, voted "no-confidence" in then-Mayor Capone, Then-Acting Chief of Police Gaetano Nappi and the town's Board of Police Commissions.
At that time, had more to do with union executives' frustration with her unwillingness to "unconditionally denounce " into rofiling leveled against the department.
"That would be very irresponsible of me to do, to comment on an ongoing investigation," Capone told East Haven Patch following the Oct. 7 vote.
In addition to the legal and moral questions raised by Justice Department's findings, Capone said, there is also the possible significant financial impact that that pattern of discriminatory behavior could end up costing the town.
"This has the potential to cost the taxpayers of East Haven millions and millions of dollars," the former mayor said.
Capone noted that, if the police department and town cooperate and enter into a consent decree with the federal government to implement the remedial measures outlined in the , the legal proceedings and the various steps needed to meet those requirements will have costs associated with each of them
"And you have to pay for that," Capone said of the town and its taxpayers.
If, however, the town and police department do not cooperate and enter into a consent decree with the Justice Department, Capone said the town could face enormous legal fees in fighting what she says can only be a losing battle.
"In the end, the federal government will win," she said, adding that federal authorities could withhold all of the funding it passes along to East Haven, crippling the town financially, until the town complies with a consent decree.
"That's $12 million a year alone in education money," Capone said, adding that there is also the being conducted into the East Haven Police Department by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the related grand jury.
If there are indictments brought down by the grand jury, that could mean another round of legal costs to the town, and ultimately East Haven tax payers.
"The only ones who win are the lawyers," Capone said of potential legal costs, adding that there is also the and East Haven police officers last fall alleging racial profiling against Latinos residents.
The lawsuit "pretty much alleges" what the Justice Department's investigation found, Capone said.
"And that's just what's existing," she said.
In the end, however, Capone said the crux of the issue brought to light by the Justice Department's report is the importance of the town, and the members of its police department, upholding the law and individual rights as ensured by the U.S. Constitution.
And that those who dismiss reports of the East Haven Police Department's discriminatory practices, because those practices target illegal Latino immigrants, are "missing the point."
"We are all provided with certain civil rights in this country — illegal or not," she said.