As talks between the U.S. Department of Justice and the continues, . says his office is doing all it can to keep the negotiations out of court.
"I'm trying to avoid a lawsuit by the Department of Justice," Maturo told reporters during Tuesday's the first of 10 of 25 volunteers to serve on the committee that will assist in developing the job specifications for a new permanent police chief.
"It's very expensive, if that happened. It could cost the town millions of dollars — the Department of Justice or not — they're there," the Mayor said.
The Mayor's Office has been working with the Department of Justice to draft a consent decree agreement following t late last year.
In the letter, Justice Department officials reported its civil investigation found the had engaged in "a pattern or practice of discrimination against Latinos."
Additionally, as a result of the DOJ's parallel criminal investigation, four East Haven Police officers for alleged civil rights violations of Latino residents, as well as others.
The consent decree, as outlined in the , would serve as a legal road map for the two sides in reforming the East Haven Police Department.
"Given the longstanding and deeply-rooted nature of the violations outlined in this letter, effective, sustainable resolution will require the development of a comprehensive written agreement along with federal judicial oversight," Justice Department officials stated in their findings letter.
The officials added that the "the remedial measures we outline in this letter will not only assist the EHPD to comply with the Constitution and federal law, but will also improve public safety and building community trust and confidence."
'To Ensure Compliance'
If the Mayor's Office, however, is unable to reach an agreement with the DOJ, the federal agency could decide to sue the town in court to force it comply with its preferred steps for reforming the police department.
"The Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit… to ensure compliance with the Constitution and federal law and protect individuals from further unlawful conduct," Justice Department officials stated in its findings letter.
The DOJ added that the federal government may also decide "to suspend or terminate certain federal funding if the Town does not voluntarily address civil rights violations."
"We seek to avoid either litigation or funds termination by entering into a binding, court-enforceable agreement," the federal officials stated.
Because of this, Maturo said the talks between the two sides continue.
"We want to be able to get to a point where we don't have that threat of a lawsuit and we have one of the best police departments in the state of Connecticut," Maturo said.
Meeting with DOJ
that Town Attorney Joseph Zullo, along with another of the town's legal representatives Hugh Keefe, "had just come back from" a meeting with officials from the U. S. Justice Department.
As Maturo continued to talk to reporters about the meeting, however, Zullo interrupted the mayor, asking him to cut his comments short "in the interest of confidentiality."
Maturo did as the town attorney advised, adding only: "so far we're on the right road, let me say that."
When asked the status of the negotiations between the town and the department, the DOJ confirmed the discussions were ongoing but declined further comment.
"But we continue to work with the Town of East Haven to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution to our investigation," Wyn Hornbuckle, an official with the DoJ's public affairs, stated in an email to East Haven Patch.