HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Senate Democrats unanimously passed a comprehensive package of reforms Tuesday to state statutes regarding the excessive use of force by law enforcement and the recording of police activity by private citizens. This legislation will reform Connecticut’s criminal justice system by introducing greater transparency protecting citizens and police officers alike and removes the appearance of conflict of interests, said Senate President Martin M. Looney, Democrat from New Haven.
Senate Bill 1109 deals with several different areas. First, police training. Legislation requires police review training programs conducted by the State Police, Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) and municipal police departments to include training on using deadly force.
A second portion of the bill deals with excessive use of force. It expands the circumstances when the Division of Criminal Justice must investigate a death involving a police officer to include any use of physical force resulting in death and requires the appointment of a prosecutor from a different judicial district than where the incident occurred or a special prosecutor to conduct the investigation in such cases. This change attempts to eliminate the potential for conflicts of interest.
Finally, the bill deals with the use of body cameras, which has been a controversial topic. State Police will be required to use body cameras. Municipalities that seek reimbursement from the state for purchase of cameras and storage will also be required to equip their officers with cameras. “This bill aims to educate and empower our police officers to more effectively engage with the communities they protect. It also protects these officers from potentially false allegations,” said Senator Eric D. Coleman of Bloomfield.
The bill still has to get approval in the House of Representatives before it can be sent to Gov. Malloy for his signature.