The release on Friday of video showing what appears to be a police officer stepping in front of a car and firing twice, resulting in the death of the driver following a traffic stop in Wethersfield, and video from earlier in April of an incident in New Haven where police fired multiple shots into a car that had been stopped because of a reported robbery, has resulted in a renewed push at the Capitol for tighter restrictions on the police.
“This would including things like whether or not police officers can shoot at a vehicle and when, would include rules for police chases,” said Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven).
In these two cases, video was released fairly quickly, but that has not always been the case in Connecticut.
The proposals being drafted would include language for more consistent and timely release.
“This should be routine,” said Atty. David McGuire of the A.C.L.U. of Connecticut.
He added, “It shouldn’t take protests and mass demonstrations for this footage to be released, it should happen automatically.”
Winfield, who is co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, said he also wants the bill to focus on two additional areas; “When police officers can use force and finally it would include things such as the reporting of force in general and the reporting of force at the time of a deadly shooting.”
Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) spent 28 years as a police officer and said second guessing police by putting what they can and cannot do in statute may not be the answer.
He added, “I think we have to look at maybe more training. Police officers are trained to use the lowest force in the use of force continuum to affect the arrest, and there has to be a review process.”
The Police Chiefs Association is declining to comment on this until they see the language of what Senator Winfield is proposing.
Winfield said he expects to have the police chiefs and representatives of the police unions involved come to a meeting to review the options later this week.