Chief State’s Attorney’s Meeting

Minutes of Meeting of August 17, 2020

The meeting was called to order at 12:34 p.m. by Chief State’s Attorney Richard J. Colangelo, Jr. The meeting was conducted remotely utilizing Zoom software in accordance with directives issued by the Governor because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also present: Deputy Chief State’s Attorney for Operations Kevin D. Lawlor; Deputy Chief State’s Attorney for Personnel, Finance and Administration John J. Russotto, State’s Attorneys Margaret E. Kelley (Ansonia/Milford), Maureen Platt (Waterbury), Stephen J. Sedensky III (Danbury), Joseph T. Corradino (Fairfield), Gail P. Hardy (Hartford), Dawn Gallo (Litchfield), Michael A. Gailor (Middlesex), Brian Preleski (New Britain), Patrick J. Griffin (New Haven), Michael L. Regan (New London), Paul J. Ferencek (Stamford/Norwalk), Matthew C. Gedansky (Tolland), and Anne F. Mahoney (Windham).

Also present: Executive Assistant State’s Attorneys Sharmese Walcott, John P. Doyle, Jr., and Brett Salafia, legislative liaison Wilfred Blanchette, Jr., Manager of Research and Planning Ivan Kuzyk, Director of Human Resources Cathy Riberio, Training Program Coordinator Vasi Gournaris and Director of Communications Alaine Griffin.

State’s Attorney Sedensky moved to accept the minutes of the June 15, 2020 and July 20, 2020 meetings. State’s Attorney Kelley seconded the motion and it passed with no one in opposition.

Director of Human Resources Cathy Riberio discussed a number of human resources matters including the HR calendar, job postings, filling vacancies, job applicant screenings and the hiring process.

Dr. Guy M. Vallaro, Director of the Division of Scientific Services for the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection; Deputy Director Lucinda Lopes-Phelan; Assistant Director of Forensic Biology and DNA Cheryl Carreiro; and Leadership Associate Sevasti Papakanakis provided updates about the Connecticut Forensic Laboratory. Vallaro said for about three months, there were restrictions on lab submissions due to the pandemic but said submissions had resumed. He said the lab worked to develop teleworking procedures during the pandemic and that the lab would soon be going through the reaccreditation process.

Ms. Lopes-Phelan discussed changes in the identification center, including that the work the lab does with the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network would now be out of the national correlation center in Alabama. The center, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week. Because of that staffing, Ms. Lopes-Phelan said investigators could get leads faster than before. Ms. Lopes-Phelan also reported that the SoleMate commercial database would be phased out and that federal funds would be used to purchase a van that would allow investigators to process cartridge cases at crime scenes.

Leadership Associate Sevasti Papakanakis discussed software used to gather DNA statistical evaluations, including the interpretation of DNA mixtures using allele counts and the removal of profile tables from DNA reports due to privacy issues. The allele tables can still be obtained by prosecutors, she said. Ms. Papakanakis also said the state is looking to obtain two Rapid DNA tests, a fully automated process of developing DNA profiles from a single source in about 90 minutes. She said one test would be located at the lab and could be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the other would be used in a State Police crime scene van.

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo reported on the Division’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said employees who go to states on the governor’s travel advisory list should quarantine and telework until they can return to their offices. Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo inquired about the 2 p.m. dockets at the courthouses. State’s Attorneys Gedansky and Platt said the hearings were going well but State’s Attorney Kelley reported problems in her jurisdiction with technology used for the hearings and crowds entering the courthouse. Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo said he would contact Judicial Branch officials about having judicial marshals restrict the number of people entering the courthouses.

In an update about the upcoming budget, Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Russotto said the state’s Office of Policy and Management has requested that the Division prepare its next budget with consideration of a 10 percent spending cut.

Legislative liaison Wilfred Blanchette said there would be a special session in September where legislators could discuss changes to the recently passes police accountability legislation. Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo reported that he had already been discussing possible changes in the legislation regarding the new Office of the Inspector General. Mr. Blanchette said he would reach out to the police chiefs and police unions about any proposals they are planning to take to legislators.

The State’s Attorneys were in agreement that suggestions they had for changes in the section about consent provisions and any other suggestions should be submitted in writing. State’s Attorney Preleski said he attended a recent meeting about helping guide police departments with the new legislation. The State’s Attorneys were in agreement that police should be getting consistent guidance from the Division.

Training Program Coordinator Vasi Gournaris reported that she would soon be sending out three new training videos approved by the Ethics Committee regarding implicit bias that all count toward ethics credit. Ms. Gournaris also said cultural competency training could begin sometime in October.

Executive Assistant State’s Attorney Walcott said a roundtable on human trafficking would be held on Sept. 23 and that there would be more domestic violence training for prosecutors and victim advocates due to the increase in domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State’s Attorney Mahoney reported that there will be additional training and panel discussions on various topics in coming months.

Manager of Research and Planning Ivan Kuzyk reported that he finished meeting with the State’s Attorneys and is continuing to evaluate criminal data. He reported that the volume of criminal cases has dropped since the start of the pandemic. He said in the third quarter of 2020, there were 11,800 reported felonies compared to 1,400 reported felonies in the fourth quarter of 2020. In the third quarter of 2020, there were 30,000 reported misdemeanors compared to 4,058 reported misdemeanors in the fourth quarter of 2020. Mr. Kuzyk said he is planning to meet with judicial officials about obtaining additional data for review.

There being no further business State’s Attorney Platt moved to adjourn. State’s Attorney Mahoney seconded the motion and it passed with no one in opposition. The meeting adjourned at 2:24 p.m.