HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It was a source of controversy over the summer. Connecticut’s Legislature swiftly went into a special session in June in the wake of George Floyd’s death to form a massive police accountability bill.
There are several dozen provisions to this bill. Most took effect back in October. Now, several parts of the state’s police reform bill are taking effect Jan. 1, which include:
- Requiring departments that serve minority communities
- Reporting efforts to recruit diverse officers
- Changing the makeup of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council — some say is too heavily made up of small-town chiefs
- Requiring officers to wear a badge in a prominent place — with exceptions for undercover operations
- Requiring officers to undergo mental health screenings every five years, but not all at once. Departments will have time to roll out the effort over several years.
State Rep. Steve Stafstrom is one of the lawmakers who worked on the police accountability bill.
Stafstrom said, “Obviously, the effort we’re trying to undertake here is to provide some uniformity to police in Connecticut. Put in place more minimum standards, which we believe will make policing more accountable and transparent to the public.”
The bill was initially touted as bipartisan. It passed largely across party lines. State Rep. Craig Fishbein is the incoming ranking member on the powerful Judiciary Committee, where the bill originated. He appreciates parts, like requiring officers to identify themselves.
“There’s a higher standard and there should be accountability. And part of that accountability is being able to identify the individual,” Fishbein said.
But Fishbein has concerns with several sections, like the part that prevents decertified police officers from becoming security guards because he says it doesn’t apply to out-of-state officers and therefore isn’t fair.
“That’s just another thing that would have gotten figured out if this language had had a full public hearing which is our process and should be our process going forward.”
Fishbein says he and his Republican colleagues intend to introduce new bills to address some portions of the bill, like clarifying the section about justifiable force.
Several other state laws take effect January 2021. Click here for a full list.