Police accountability bill causes local police unions to endorse Zucaro for state representative

Patrizia Zucaro.

Patrizia Zucaro.

contributed photo /

The Westport Police union has joined Norwalk’s police union and Wilton’s police union in endorsing Republica Patrizia Zucaro for state representative for the 143rd district.

“I am truly honored to have received this endorsement because I have so much respect for the work that the Wilton, Norwalk and Westport police departments do everyday to keep our communities safe,” Zucaro said. “It’s a difficult job they do, often at great risk to their own lives, and it is the legislature’s responsibility to ensure that they have the tools and the means to perform it successfully.”

Zucaro looks to fill the seat vacated by longtime representative Gail Lavielle. She was also one of many Republican candidates endorsed by the Norwalk police union in September.

The Westport Police union also endorsed Kim Healy for the 26th district state senate race.

In a joint statement the unions cited the recent passage of the police accountability law as their justification for the endorsement.

“Local police unions have historically aimed to maintain a neutral position in political matters,” Sgt. Anna Tornello, president of the Wilton Police Union, said in a statement on behalf of the three unions. “Their members — the men and women who have pledged to serve and protect their communities and to ensure that all rights of all citizens are equally preserved — have trusted their elected officials to legislate in support of the safety of all individuals, the public and their servants alike. Instead our state legislators rushed to pass one of the strongest anti-police bills in the country, a bill that promotes hatred and divisiveness instead of seeking understanding and reconciliation.”

Howard Simpson, president of the Westport Police Union, said the candidates endorsed by his union were pro-law enforcement and felt as some unions do that the new bill was rushed.

“Quite frankly none of the people in the state legislature actually decided to reach out and talk to any of us to talk about how it would impact us,” Simpson said, adding it stung that elected officials didn’t reach out to local law enforcement.

He said he understood the national conversation around police, but a few examples couldn’t represent all officers.

“There’s not one police officer I know or I work with that would condone any of the behavior that people are upset about,” Simpson said.

Consent searches and qualified immunity were some of the concerns with the bill, he said.

“They didn’t really take into account what it was going to do to make an already hard profession harder to do,” Simpson said, adding some of the legislation also sought to regulate things already being done.

But communication and open dialogue between legislators and officers were key to handling these difficult conversations, he said.

“We can’t change what’s going to happen going forward just as much as we can’t change what’s happened in the past,” Simpson said. “At least if somebody sits down and listen to us maybe that could change some minds and it could change how somebody looks at things.”