NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Law enforcement unions said the police accountability bill was rushed through the statehouse. They predict low morale will now deter new recruits and push experienced officers towards early or mass retirement.
Sergeant Otis Baskins has been an officer for fourteen years and trains other departments on implicit bias. The local police union vice president applauds some parts of the new bill.
“Having body cameras, having cameras inside the vehicle, I agree with drug testing,” he said.
Read the full bill online
But there’s plenty Baskins doesn’t agree with, including a ban on cops asking to search a car during a traffic stop and limits on the ways police can ask for ID during the stop.
Baskins worries the controversy over the qualified immunity portion of the bill has overshadowed what he views as real and present danger officers encounter daily.
“We can’t even get to qualified immunity because we may not survive a motor vehicle stop,” he said.
“We will continue this fight,” said Andrew Matthews, Executive Director of the Connecticut State Police Union.
Matthews said troopers are also suffering from whiplash with how quickly the bill sailed through the Capitol. He wanted more discussion with legislators and input from officers.
“I think this bill, the effect that it had, I’ve talked to a lot of troopers, it made people pause; it made people really hesitate because they don’t feel supported,” said Matthews.
But proponents of the bill maintain that this was the will of the people, passed by a legislative majority.
“Connecticut residents poured in by the thousands into the streets demanding accountability, demanding oversight, demanding early warning signs and early intervention systems and justice and redress,” said Melvin Medica with the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
The Connecticut State Police Union said it will continue to fight for its troopers into future legislative sessions, where parts of the bill may be revisited.