Connecticut lawmakers passed a groundbreaking law enforcement reform package that will potentially remake police-community relations in the state.
David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, said, “In a national landscape that is fraught with tension between communities and police, Connecticut is working to be a national leader in the kinds of accountability measures that will build trust with our law enforcement agencies.”
The sweeping package comprises a set of initiatives such as:
- Body cameras: This may be the first time that the state is paying for body cameras, related equipment and data storage through the first year. This will keep the acquisition of body cameras from impacting local municipal budgets.
- Prosecutorial reassignment: Cases involving fatal police encounters will be assigned to investigators from outside of the officer’s jurisdiction to prevent appearances of conflict of interest.
- The right to record: This bill codifies the right to record and adds an extra layer of protection by creating a private right of action against police officers who unlawfully prevent a person from exercising this right.
- Recruitment and retention of minority officers: Departments in jurisdictions with large minority populations will roll out community outreach programs and other initiatives to boost minority representation in police ranks.
- Bias-free police instruction will become part of all law enforcement basic or review trainings.
McGuire added, “Body cameras have the potential to remove the opacity that has plagued so many recent cases. We hope these cameras will literally be an unbiased perspective that will protect the public—in those rare occurrences when an officer crosses the line—as well as the police from specious accusations.”
The body camera provisions in the bill strikes a balance between accountability and an individual’s right to privacy.
McGuire said, “This is a good policy that protects the privacy of citizens and the police.”
House Bill 7103 passed in the House 108 to 37 and 36 to 0 in the Senate.