The ACLU-CT is dedicated to ending police violence and racism in policing in all forms. We strongly support measures that ensure that police do not deprive a person of emergency medical services while that person is in police custody or control. While 18 U.S.C. § 242 applies to nearly all incidents of violence by law enforcement, it describes the circumstances under which an officer can be held criminally responsible for violating a person’s constitutional rights but does not make clear the specific actions an officer cannot take. In 2020 alone, police killed more than 1,100 people, and these killings are a leading cause of death for Black men in America. Police brutality includes the failure of officials to provide medical treatment to people who are arrested, in jail, or in prison. Although § 242 exists under federal law, police brutality cases of this kind are rarely prosecuted.

There are countless examples of people, like George Floyd and Freddie Gray, who were killed or injured because police officers failed to provide emergency medical treatment. Because laypeople, bystanders, and police officers themselves are most likely to be at the scene when emergency medical care is needed, Senate Bill 445 critically defines an emergency medical condition as one that can be determined with a layperson’s knowledge and not that of a physician. But accountability measures alone are not enough. Connecticut must also divest from policing and reinvest in programs that build strong and safe communities. Policymakers must reduce policing’s responsibilities, scale, and tools to build an equitable future for all people in Connecticut. The ACLU-CT supports Senate Bill 445 as a beginning step towards police accountability by prohibiting the police from depriving a person of emergency medical care while in their custody or control. 



Bill number

S.B. 445