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CT Lawmakers Pass Sweeping Police Reform Bill

In the wake of George Floyd's death, Connecticut has joined other states passing police reform. (Lisa Jacobs/Flickr)
In the wake of George Floyd's death, Connecticut has joined other states passing police reform. (Lisa Jacobs/Flickr)
July 30, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Connecticut Legislature has passed sweeping reforms of policing in the state.

The special session bill touches many aspects of policing, including data collection for police misconduct, empowering civilian review boards with the ability to subpoena, and ending "stop and frisk" policies.

Melvin Medina, public policy and advocacy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, which supports the bill, said it also requires officers to intervene if a colleague is unjustifiably harming the public. Officers who don't intervene or report misconduct can be held criminally liable.

"Those are key provisions to incentivize police officers to root out the cops who are continuously using this form of harm," Medina said.

Medina said it's part of the nation reckoning with how policing has affected communities of color. He can't imagine this bill passing even a year ago.

He highlighted another part of the bill that places investigations of police officers under the Office of the Inspector General, rather than the Chief State's Attorney.

"Creating an independent investigation and prosecution of police officers who use force that ultimately kills people," Medina said. "I congratulate the Legislature for taking this section of the bill as far as the Connecticut Constitution allows."

But Medina noted lawmakers still can do more. For instance, he said, they could go further to change qualified immunity, and allow families of people killed by police to get their day in court.

"The Legislature took the first step towards beginning a process to end police violence," Medina said. "You don't end police violence with a single bill. It's really a journey that we have to go on."

The state Senate passed the bill on Wednesday; Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to sign it.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - CT