REDDING, Conn. – Redding voters turned down a proposal to add a Police Commission to the town’s government by a 500-vote margin Monday.
A group of Redding citizens petitioned to instate a Police Commission in Redding to oversee the town’s police department earlier this year. By state law, commissions have the exclusive say on staffing decisions within the department, including all appointments, promotions and reprimands to officers.
In towns without police commissions, those powers fall to a town’s executive body; in Redding's case, it's the Board of Selectmen. Redding has used this system since installing its own police department more than a decade ago. Of the 92 municipalities in Connecticut with their own police departments, about 50 also have police commissions.
A townwide referendum held Monday asked voters to approve the creation of an elected police commission. Of those that voted, 348 were in favor of the commission, and 848 opposed it. Overall voter turnout was 17 percent, according to the town website.
Monday’s vote followed the opinion of the Board of Selectmen, who unanimously voted in opposition of the proposed ordinance last month.
“In small towns such as Redding, citizens elect selectmen as their representatives in governmental matters. Establishing an independent police commission creates a new level of bureaucracy which may lessen the degree of accountability and authority of both the police chief and the elected officials,” First Selectman Natalie Ketcham said at the public hearing on the issue last month, reading from a 2001 report by consulting group The Police Foundation.
“We agreed then with this position, and a different board of selectmen today still agrees,” Ketcham added.
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