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Critics: Bill on Police Accountability Doesn't Fix Problem

Some police departments did not report racial profiling data until threatened with sanctions. (WestportWiki/Wikimedia Commons)
Some police departments did not report racial profiling data until threatened with sanctions. (WestportWiki/Wikimedia Commons)
March 28, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – Civil-liberties advocates want the General Assembly to do more to ensure the public can hold police accountable. In 2014, the state passed a law mandating that all police agencies make their complaint forms available online and accept anonymous complaints.

But, an ACLU report released earlier this year says that 40 of 102 police agencies in the state have failed to clearly post their complaint policies on their websites. A new bill has been introduced, ordering police to do a better job.

However, David McGuire, the executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, says that House Bill 7285 falls short:

"The bill does a very good job of addressing the fact that there is a compliance problem, but in our mind did not offer the proper solutions."

McGuire was among more than 50 people who testified at hearings last week, urging lawmakers to pass the bill but asking them to make it stronger.

Among the changes they'd like to see is the imposition of consequences for police departments that don't comply.

McGuire points out that for 15 years, many police departments in the state ignored a law requiring reporting of racial profiling data.

"The state of Connecticut then put a provision in place that if police do not substantially comply they could lose their state funding," he said. "And now every department in Connecticut submits racial profiling traffic-stop data."

McGuire also is calling for a standardized complaint form, available in multiple languages, to be used by every police agency.

He says the state needs to create a mechanism to track and record complaints of police misconduct.

"So the public can track their complaint through the process and know what the disposition is, and the state of Connecticut and the Legislature can understand how many complaints departments are fielding and what the results are," he added.

The Joint Judiciary Committee now has until April 7 to approve the bill so it can advance to the full General Assembly for a vote.

Andrea Sears/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - CT