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Gov. Lamont makes changes to CSP procedures, says he wants it to create trust and transparency

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont has signed more than 50 executive orders dealing with coronavirus. Now, a new order separate and apart from the pandemic makes reforms to Connecticut State Police in the wake of demonstrations across the country calling for police reform, accountability and transparency among law enforcement. 

Lamont addressed reporters during a news conference and said he’s not waiting for lawmakers to help make the change, he’s doing it himself.

“I think Republicans are as outraged, as the Democrats, over what happened to George Floyd and I think this is an opportunity to turn that into action,” he said. “Police accountability is about trust and good police work doesn’t work without trust.”

The executive order, signed on Monday, does this following:

  • Bans the Connecticut State Police from using chokeholds, strangleholds, arm-bar control holds, lateral vascular neck restraints, carotid restraints, chest compressions, or any other tactics that restrict oxygen or blood flow to the head or neck.
  • Requires the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) to review the Connecticut State Police Administrative and Operations Manual and update it to include the following requirements and prohibitions:
  1. Require troopers to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force;
  2. Require troopers to provide a verbal warning, when possible, before using deadly force;
  3. Require troopers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to deadly force;
  4. Require troopers to intervene to stop another law enforcement officer from using excessive force, and to report any such use to a supervisor in writing;
  5. Prohibit troopers from shooting at or into moving vehicles unless the occupants of the vehicle pose a deadly threat by means other than the vehicle;
  6. Include a use-of-force matrix; and
  7. Require troopers to report all uses of force, including drawing a firearm on another civilian.
  • Requires DESPP to appoint and train community trust liaisons in each Connecticut State Police Troop and instruct them to assist those troops in building relationships with residents and community-based organizations, learning from those residents and organizations about how to better serve their communities, and making it easier for those residents and organizations to communicate with the State Police.
  • Prohibits DESPP from purchasing or otherwise acquiring military and military-style equipment from the federal government until further notice.
  • Directs every uniformed officer of the Connecticut State Police to be equipped with a body camera and every marked vehicle of the Connecticut State Police to be equipped with a dashboard camera.

Lamont said the state is going to release a portal that breaks down law enforcement activity per town. 

“We’re going to put in place a use of force portal,” Lamont said. “We’ve been working on this for a year, but now is the time to release it. I want you to know town by town, based on gender, based upon race, what our police are doing, how that impacts your community and how that’s broken down by race and gender. 

He said it’s all about creating transparency and trust.

“I just think in the name of transparency we want you to see what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what those trend lines are.”

“Building community trust through relationships, accountability, and transparency is the foundation of my leadership at the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection,” added DESPP Commissioner James C. Rovella. “Serving for more than 20 years in Hartford, I was able to build on relationships and develop an understanding of what our communities expect of its police. We have made great progress in the last year and a half, but we all recognize that, together, there is still much work to accomplish.”

The governor said that what we see in the community should be reflected in law enforcement. So, he is changing recruitment.

“Eighty percent of our state police are white males, but that’s changing,” he said. “For the women, we are going to a lot of the teams right now because those are women on sporting teams in high school and college who have leadership capability and not afraid of what it means to be a great state trooper.”

Representative Brendan McGee was on hand for the news conference. A couple of weeks ago, he was at a protest in front of the police department with his daughter. He was angry, upset with tears in his eyes, saying we can do better, and now he says there is hope that the state can do better as we start to move forward.

“She [his daughter] is screaming, ‘no justice, no peace,'” he recalled. “She doesn’t really understand what she’s saying, and then seeing white children and Asian children and all of these people speaking the truth to power; that is moving!”

Melvin Medina, the spokesperson of the ACLU of Connecticut, released a statement on the governor’s executive order saying, “The executive order from Governor Lamont does nothing to end police violence or racism. Lamont has issued an executive order that proposes increasing policing, leaves the door open for future militarization by police, and allows police to continue policing themselves…”

The executive order can be read below:

It also bans shooting into moving cars – like what we saw happen in wethersfield last year.

The order also requires all troopers to be fitted with dash and body cameras.

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