Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he has signed into law policing reform legislation formed to increase accountability for law enforcement whose actions do not represent the values of the state and to increase public trust with police officers.
The long-term issue came back to the forefront this spring in the wake of the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among many others, by some police and law enforcement.
“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 has been having a conversation on this topic for decades, and these reforms are long overdue.”
The governor specifically thanked the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, State Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) and State Representative Steve Stafstrom (D-Bridgeport), for their leadership crafting the legislation and seeing it through both chambers of the state legislature.
The legislation is House Bill 6004, An Act Concerning Police Accountability. Some of the highlights include:
- Changes in the membership of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), which provides certifications and trainings 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, strangleholds 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.