The City Council approved the replacement of two members of the Police-Community Relations Committee on Tuesday, an action that led to some criticism that the board will now be left with less experienced individuals.
Councilors voted 5-1 to approve the appointments, which also included the reappointment of three sitting committee members. Councilor Anthony Nolan, a police officer, abstained from the vote.
Margaret Reyes will replace Suzanne Cattanach while Tracee Reiser will replace Jay Wheeler. Committee members Marie Gravell, Carl Lee, and Wayne Vendetto were reappointed. Robert Bareiss was appointed to a vacant seat.
When the issue first appeared in the Administration Committee, Council President Pro Tempore and committee chairman Wade Hyslop recommended that Bareiss replace Lee. Councilor Adam Sprecace amended the appointment recommendations to have Lee remain on the board while Bareiss would fill a vacant seat. Sprecace said this would strike a balance between new members and members who have served on the committee for several years.
The amendment passed in the Administration Committee in a 2-1 vote. Hyslop, the dissenting vote, said he had not received applications for reappointment from some members. He said he had heard that some expressed a wish to remain on the board at a meeting of the committee but that he had not seen minutes to confirm this.
“Sometimes we cut off our lifeline by not allowing new people to come in,” Hyslop added.
Vendetto said most of the committee is made up of appointees from various groups and organizations including the New London Police Department and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He said he would have preferred to have the more senior council appointees remain on the committee.
“There’s no experience left if they do what they want to do,” said Vendetto.
Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran, the sole opponent of the appointments, said the action was ousting committee members against their will.
“I have a problem that you’re replacing members who don’t want to be replaced,” she said.
The committee typically meets on the first Tuesday of each month to review issues such as residents’ complaints against police officers. At its last meeting, the committee refused to take action on a pending complaint until concerns over the complaints procedure have been resolved.