Fairfield: Reviewing "Blueprint" Racial Justice and Equity Plan

Fairfield: Reviewing "Blueprint" Racial Justice and Equity Plan

A new proposed Racial Justice and Equity plan will serve as a “blueprint” for ongoing conversations and work.

First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said that she wants to “dissect” the proposed blueprint—including getting department heads’ feedback on it, seeing what actionable items can be done, and utilizing a consultant to ask additional questions.

Since September 2020, the Racial Equity and Justice Task Force has been conducting interviews with members of the community, speaking with experts, and reviewing data to put together the blueprint.

“This blueprint provides a framework for how town governance and operations can better reflect the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion and it provides opportunities for reflection and learning,” according to the document. “It’s a catalyst for the on-going work required to achieve substantive movement towards a town where people of all backgrounds and cultures feel safe, valued, and heard.”

Some action items recommended by the blueprint include:

  • Making a formal proclamation and adopt a subsequent resolution that acknowledges the existence and impact of a combination of systems that disadvantage residents of color in access and opportunity in Fairfield, and commits to addressing racial equity and justice in town governance and town operation
  • Establishing a permanent Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, which could “coordinate efforts with existing groups, and facilitate the on-going conversations required to put principles of justice and equity into practice,” and “serve as a conduit to bridge conversations between the community and town officials.”
  • Hiring a full-time town Director of Community Justice and Belonging charged with oversight and management of racial equity planning and response
  • Collecting, reviewing, and publishing data on the racial, ethnic, and linguistic makeup of the Town’s workforce in relation to the Town’s demography
  • Requiring all town employees, including senior leadership, to attend annual racial equity and cultural competency training sessions
  • Continuing the work started by Police Chief Robert Kalamaras, which has included a new patch that aims to “symbolize our department’s dedication to serving the Fairfield community and our commitment to being a 21st century, forward-thinking and inclusive police agency.”
  • Hiring a full-time Community Outreach Coordinator outside of the police department
  • Examining and identifying planning and zoning mechanisms which may be impeding access to fair and equitable housing
  • Implementing ongoing mandatory anti-racism, implicit bias, and restorative justice training for all faculty and staff in the school district
  • Establishing Neighborhood Resource Teams to build relationships with marginalized groups or communities

So far, Kupchick has put $75,000 in ARPA funds to hiring a consultant to work with diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the town. She said she'd like the consultant to build on the work of the task force.

After the presentation, the task force as a whole was disbanded, however Kupchick asked for a few members to continue working on this issue and to help answer questions the consultant and other department heads might have.

Steven Bogan, a member of the Task Force said that “every town in America needs to do” something like this and that listening projects like this one are so important to moving the work forward.