By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – A commission looking at improving police accountability across the state heard from an immigrant rights activist in Manchester Wednesday who said she often finds herself serving as a bridge between the people and police.
Eva Castillo-Turgeon, a member of the Manchester Police Commission, said she was not speaking as a member of that body but as an individual.
Castillo-Turgeon said she was totally biased against the police when she came to Manchester. She said over time she learned to see the police as human beings and ever since then “I have become like a bridge between the community and police.”
Castillo-Turgeon said she is a rebel, an activist and is loud “but with age, you learn you will never come together in the middle of the room until you find things you can agree on and build on that…nothing is going to happen overnight.”
Change, she said, “happens slooooowly.”
She said as long as people have a deep distrust in police, nothing will get done. It is likely going to take a generation before people get comfortable with police and she noted police should focus on developing a positive youth interaction.
Castillo-Turgeon told a story about getting a police officer to come to celebrate a kid’s birthday.
“He was so excited,” she said.
Fostering positive interactions like that are key, Castillo-Turgeon said, to improve the relationship people have with uniformed officers. She said “while we need definitely to train people…training is not going to do much,” she said without community interaction.
“We need to do more community building,” Castillo-Turgeon told the state Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency. That commission, known as LEACT, is charged with providing a report to Gov. Chris Sununu by the end of the month on measures that can be taken to improve law enforcement training, relations and accountability.
Sununu created the commission following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police and public outrage over racial injustice which prompted demonstrations in New Hampshire and around the world.
“The people who are afraid of police call me when they need to report a crime and ask me to bring one of ‘my police'” to help, Castillo-Turgeon said.
She was asked by members of the LEACT commission if the state could find money to hire “go-betweens” like her, would that help bridge those gaps with minorities? She said she would do it for free but she thought the right people could be found to make a difference.
“Anything I can do to contribute my big mouth,” she said. “I am fighting for my community and to make New Hampshire a better place.”
A copy of her written testimony is here https://www.governor.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt336/files/documents/20200721-eva-castillo-testimony.pdf
She said while she does not like being stereotyped as an immigrant, she does not like people stereotyping police either.
The commission also heard from a Nashua police lieutenant about the positive work the department is doing in interacting with minority youths to ensure they stay out of the criminal justice system.
Some of that work is considered a national model.
“All kids are kids and if we can, give kids the benefit of the doubt,” said Nashua Police Lt. Carlos Camacho.
“We were all kids once,” he said. “I was given breaks when I was growing up,” he said, adding he grew up in Texas, and that break given to him by an officer allowed him to develop a respect for law enforcement, a profession he chose.
Camacho said he works a lot with the State Advisory Group or SAG on police-youth issues. The SAG is within the national Coalition for Juvenile Justice http://www.juvjustice.org/about-us.
He outlined the Nashua department’s Mirror Project which is all about mutual “communication and respect.”
It could be replicated in other parts of the state, he said, and has been getting national attention by other law enforcement agencies.
The project allows youths to sit down and allow them to ask questions “about anything.” He said the police try to reach the youths where they are, be that at youth centers, parks, and on the streets.
Nashua is a refugee resettlement community and many youths have previously had a bad relationship with law enforcement. He said the department also engages in roundtable discussions on issues related to driving, drinking, substance abuse, and crimes.
Camacho said implicit bias training is important and a cornerstone of police training.
He provided state demographic data to LEACT. It shows that in the year 2000, 95.8 percent of the state was white, 93 percent in 2008, and in 2018 the last year reported 91 percent.
But the number of individuals of color in the state prison system would suggest that people of color are arrested more often than white individuals.
He said race and income disparity are factors impacting youths in entering the criminal justice system, whether someone lives in a city or a rural area.
Camacho was asked by a commission member what he meant when he talked about the “police culture.”
He said the youth culture has its own identity with the way they communicate, dress, and interact.
“At the same time, we (police) talk in code. What we wear. We all wear the same uniform. Trying to get that across that everybody has a culture,” is an important approach to take with youths.
Camacho was also asked about juvenile detention centers. New Hampshire has fewer youths in such detention centers than the national average but more needs to be done to make that number zero, he said.
Going to the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, a youth detention facility, he said there are 20 or fewer youths and police in other parts of the country can’t believe there are so few. He acknowledged there are a lot of minorities there.
“You do see the disparities there,” Camacho said. “There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.”
He acknowledged there are more minority youths arrested than whites but “we are going to do our best to get them out of the system. They are arrested more, the numbers show it,” Camacho said.
Camacho addressed the issue of school resource officers and whether the money would be better spent on projects like the Mirror Program.
Camacho said police officers are needed in schools but it is incredibly important to have “the right police officer” there.
The LEACT Commission will meet virtually on Friday at 9 a.m. to hear more testimony and plans to meet three times next week, beginning Tuesday at 1 p.m., Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Friday at 9 a.m.
Sununu gave the commission 45 days to do its work and the deadline is July 31.
With lots more work to be done and the deadline looming, Sununu said last week that he would ask for at least a preliminary report by the end of the month with proposed recommendations for change.
The commission agreed to complete a report to him on police training by July 31 and then voted to ask the governor for a 60-day extension on the rest of its work.
For more information visit https://www.governor.nh.gov/accountability
- 07/22/2020 Julian Jefferson – Litigation Regarding Police Officers in Public Schools
- 07/22/2020 Julian Jefferson – Recommendations
- 07/22/2020 Karen Bouffard – Testimony
- 07/22/2020 Don Clendenen – Our State Should Do This
- 07/21/2020 Tonya Tyler – Police Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability Letter
- 07/20/2020 Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion – Email to Commission
- 07/20/2020 James Mason – “Black” not “Dark” – ref Testimony by Anthony Pivero
- 07/20/2020 Anthony Pivero – LEACT 5/ Complaint against LEACT/Unsubstantiated Racist Allegation
- 07/20/2020 Linda Wojas – Public Testimony
- 07/20/2020 Maggie Kris – Police Misconduct (2)
- 07/20/2020 Martha Wyatt – LEACT Supplemental Written Testimony
- 07/20/2020 Stephanie Hausman – LEACT statement
- 07/20/2020 Maggie Kris – Police misconduct
- 07/20/2020 Steve Monier – Testimony from Chief Steve Monier (Ret.) – Goffstown
- 07/20/2020 Matt Simon – Reimagining Justice: Race, Cannabis, and Policing
- 07/20/2020 Bonnie Bruno – Law enforcement reform
- 07/20/2020 Janet Hadley Champlin – Testimony on 07/14/20
- 07/20/2020 Elizabeth Rawnsley – Jeff Sessions: Former U.S. Attorney General appointed by President Donald J. Trump : Senator in the U.S. Senate for how many years? Decades?
- 07/20/2020 Elizabeth Rawnsley – FW: The impeachment process was handled so very poorly, in the hands of Congress and the U.S. Senate. South Carolina, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham was supposed to send all Senators who were the “jurors” many relevant facts. CNN? Defrauding the public?
- 07/20/2020 Laura Kelley – Systemic Breakdown
- 07/20/2020 John (Manchester) – Testimony for Commission
- 07/19/2020 James McKim – Article: “This town of 170,000 replaced some cops with medics and mental health workers. It’s worked for over 30 years.”
- 07/15/2020 Charlie Dennis – NH Deaf and Hard of Hearing Visor Card
- Robin Martin – Re: Police reform
- Linda Wojas – Re: Inability to Speak
- Robin Martin – Police reform
- J. Casity – Thinking about Police transparency
- Jean Allan – Public Testimony Submitted to Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparancy
- Martha Wyatt – LEACT Commission Testimony
- Richard Kleinschmidt – Submission from Concord Friends Meeting (Quakers)
- Tracy Hayes – Race and Equity in New Hampshire
- Anthony Pivero – LEACT 4
- Ivor Edmonds – Written Testimony to the New Hampshire Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transpararency
- David Saad – Right to Know NH testimony to LEACT Commission
- Jim Karwocki – Testimony for Commission
- Anthony Pivero – LEACT 3
- Linda Wojas – Inability to Speak
- Terence Nelan – In Favor of Cannabis Law Reform
- Mandi Neff – Testimony for Commission on Police Accountability, Community, and Transparency
- Gerry Dekoto – State commission examining law enforcement policies and procedures.
- Elizabeth Rawnsley – Fwd: Governor Sununu sets up commission to review police accountability, in the State of New Hampshire: ACLU in New Hampshire is participating in the process? Re: We had 101 members of this state review the conduct of their own state courts, years ago.
- James Edouard – Training & Accountability
- Lynn Boudreau – Racism
- G. Michael Sanborn – Testimony
- Christopher Emerson – Police Training
- NH Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – training, policies and procedures
- Michael Dane – Re: Testimony for Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Transparency, and Community
- Michael Skibbie – Written Testimony of DRC-NH
- Bonnie Bruno – Thoughts
- Claire Best – Police Accountability and Transparency
- Kaitlyn Shanley – Cannabis Legalization needs to be included in the police reform talk
- Donna Brown – NHACDL Suppl Testimony and Documents Re PreTextual Stops
- Johnathan Moulton – Testimony for Commission
- Elizabeth Rawnsley – RE: One more commission formed in New Hampshire, when we have how many media resources unable to even expose facts on to the view of the public, in this state, for how many years, now?
- Cathy Lanigan – Testimony for Commission Evaluating the Use of Cannabis
- Paula Ward – NH Legalization of Cannabis / Testimony for Commission
- Mark Widdison – Testimony for Commission
- Patrick Chamberlin – Testimony for Commission on Police Accountability, Community, and Transparency
- Representative Renny Cushing – Letter to Gov’s Commission
- Matt Simon – Testimony For Commission On Police Accountatbility Community and Transparency
- FW U.S. Supreme Court U.S. Supreme Court Judge Roberts may not be fully informed, due to no fault of his own about so many relevant matters, involved in this presidency and what is truly covered up
- Rev. John W. Eaton – Public Testimony
- Joseph Lascaze – DOC Facility Demographics Summary
- Julian Jefferson – Materials for Commission’s Review
- Wanda Duryea – Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency
- Elizabeth Rawnsley – Governor Sununu sets up commission to review police accountability, in the State of New Hampshire: ACLU in New Hampshire is participating in the process? Re: We had 101 members of this state review the conduct of their own state courts, years ago.
- Anthony Pivero – LEACT 2
- Janet Hadley Champlin – Request to testify before the NH Governor’s LEACT Commission
- Fina Gaboian Frey – Commission On Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency
- Kathy Urie – Police Accountability
- Dr. Nicole L. Sawyer – The importance of Candidate Selection – Testimony submitted to the Commission on LE Accountability, Community and Transparency
- Jacquelyn Benson – Testimony for NH Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency
- Michael Dane – Testimony for Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Transparency, and Community
- Anthony J. Pivero – LEACT 1st letter
- Rebecca Hayes – Written Testimony – Mental Health & Addiction
- Veronica Dane – Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Transparency, and Community
- Richard Tripp – Law Enforcement Hearing Questions
- Donna Brown – NH Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – Written Testimony
- Richard Van Wickler – Cheshire County Superintendent of Corrections (Ret.) and Law Enforcement Action Partnership – LEACT Testimony
- Bill Zebuhr – LEACT Comments
- Natalie Strickland – Request for Accountability and De-Escalation
- Bradford Hutchinson – Victim of Police Misconduct Speaks
- Janet Hadley Champlin – Recommendations for the NH Govenor’s Law Enforcement Commission
- Elizabeth Rawnsley – One more commission formed in New Hampshire, when we have how many media resources unable to even expose facts on to the view of the public, in this state, for how many years, now?
- Linda Wojas – Request for 91-A Laurie List
- Chief David Kurz – Durham Police Department’s Commitment to the Durham Community
- Bonnie Sisak – Request for Consideration