New Haven police officer fired after alleged rule violations

NEW HAVEN — The Board of Police Commissioners has fired Constable Kenroy Taylor, deciding his past violations of departmental rules warrant the decision, over objections from the police union.

Taylor had previously been charged with failing to properly handle a domestic violence case in March 2020; not completing four outstanding reports; leave evidence in their vehicle; going to Home Depot in Hamden while on duty in New Haven; and not assisting the Parks Department, without explanation, in closing Fort Hill Park during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the presentation by attorney Floyd Dugas, who represented the city at Monday’s hearing.

Dugas and Acting Chief Renee Dominguez urged that Taylor be fired from his post, saying he failed to meet the standard of loyalty required of a police officer.

“We are not dealing with a single isolated incident,” Dugas said. “He is a responsibility for the department, as well as for public safety and the health of the community.”

“The biggest problem is the lie. … There is a risk to the public trust, there is a risk to the police and what their missions and values ​​stand for, and any accountability to the city itself “(The public) wants an officer who is going to be able to be trusted, with integrity.”

Dominguez said Taylor’s actions could prompt the state Police Officer Training and Standards Board to revoke Taylor’s ability to serve as an officer in the state, although she does not has not brought the matter before him to date.

The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office had released a letter from Giglio regarding Taylor, she noted, which could compromise her ability to testify at trial in future cases. Such a letter is a document written by a prosecutor when he discovers that an agent may not be credible in court.

Attorney Marshall Segar, representing Taylor and the Elm City Local, argued that Taylor was wrongly singled out for punishment.

Although Taylor made some mistake, the situations warranted discipline, not firing, Segar said. He suggested that similar matters had not been considered with this level of seriousness in the past.

About 60 officers failed to file reports before a 2019 audit by the department, Segar said, and were offered pending suspensions, while Taylor’s failures, related to his other rule violations, the prompted him to be fired for dismissal.

In response to questions from Segar, Dominguez said at least two active officers also had letters from Giglio in their personal files.

“Officer Kenroy Taylor was the subject of ongoing prejudice and mistreatment,” Segar said. “This whole concept of termination is a ‘get Kenroy’ attitude.”

The commission voted unanimously to terminate Taylor’s employment.

Taylor, a member of the department since 2014, filed a lawsuit against the department and the city last week in federal court, alleging he had been discriminated against on religious grounds.

The lawsuit was not specifically mentioned during Monday’s hearing, although Segar asked an officer who had testified about the length of his goatee before the commissioners objected.

Taylor is a practicing Rastafarian, a faith that views the growth of long and dreaded hair and a beard as “critical principles” symbolizing a “spiritual covenant and a symbolic rejection of evil,” wrote attorney Cameron Atkinson of Pattis. & Smith LLC, based in New Haven. the complaint.

Department General Order 85-1 prohibits officers from growing facial hair beyond a mustache unless they have a skin disorder aggravated by shaving.

Taylor has such a skin disorder, Atkinson wrote, and has also requested a religious exception to the policy on several occasions.

“Defendants, however, ignored Taylor’s request, and they actively engaged in efforts to remove him from the New Haven Police Department in retaliation for his requests for accommodation,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson alleged in the complaint that department officials had “fabricated a host of allegations of misconduct against Taylor” in response to his requests for accommodation, “including allegations of dishonesty that would bar him from serving as a police in any jurisdiction in the United States again,” suspended him for five days after he grew a beard, then placed him on administrative leave.

“Defendants took these actions because they view Taylor as a problem and because they have animosity toward Taylor’s religious practices and disability,” Atkinson said. “Taylor’s free exercise of his religious beliefs – growing a beard – has no impact on the performance of his job responsibilities or on his working relationship with the City of New Haven, other than his discrimination against his against.”

Among other results, the suit seeks to have General Order 85-1 declared to be in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an injunction preventing the city from enforcing it if religion is implicated, compensatory damages, punitive damages and other remedies determined by the court itself.

According to city attorney Patricia King on Tuesday, “the company attorney is not aware that the city or the defendants have been served. However, we are aware of the claims made and look forward to vigorously defending this litigation.

In a statement, Atkinson said Taylor faces improper charges from the department because of her faith.

“There are areas in New Haven that could use enhanced patrols from the New Haven Police Department. Constable Taylor’s beard is not one,” Atkinson said. “Running him out of the New Haven PD on trumped up charges because of his faith won’t help anyone.”

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