HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Governor Lamont signed the Police Accountability bill into law Friday.
“These reforms are focused on bringing real change to end the systemic discrimination that exists in our criminal justice and policing systems that have impacted minority communities for far too long,” Governor Lamont said. “Ultimately, what we are enacting today are policies focused on providing additional safeguards to protect peoples’ lives and make our communities stronger. Our nation and our state have been having a conversation on this topic for decades, and these reforms are long overdue.”
He was joined by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz; the co-chairs of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, State Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) and State Representative Steve Stafstrom (D-Bridgeport); State Representative Brandon McGee (D-Windsor, Hartford); State Representative Anthony Nolan (D-New London), who also serves as a New London police officer; and Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.
Winfield was a lead author of the bill, and was very emotional when it looked like the state House of Representatives might remove the qualified immunity section. That section allows citizens to take legal action against officers if they feel those officers violated their rights. Qualified immunity survived the debates by both state representatives and state senators and remained in the final bill signed Friday
The bill was proposed in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which sparked national and local demand for police reform.
It includes the following:
- Changes in the membership of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), which provides certifications and training to police officers in Connecticut. POST will be reconstituted to include persons impacted by the judicial system and towns of various sizes.
- POST will issue an annual report on police department efforts to recruit minority officers, and it will develop new crowd control policies, require implicit bias training, and ensure that police disciplinary records are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
- Uniformed police officers must have their names and badge numbers readily visible on all outer garments.
- Cities and towns can create civilian review boards, which will have subpoena power through their local legislative bodies (i.e. Board of Selectmen).
- Body and dashboard cameras will be mandatory for any officer interacting with the public.
- Chokeholds, stranglehold, and other tactics restraining oxygen and blood flow are banned, and officers will have whistleblower protections to report excessive use of force.
- A new Independent Office of the Inspector General will conduct use of force investigations.