HARTFORD – After more than one year of Freedom of Information requests, the ACLU of Connecticut today released a new statewide study of police union contracts titled: “Bargained Away: How Local and State Governments in Connecticut Have Bargained Away Police Accountability.” The report comes as thousands of people throughout Connecticut have protested police violence and racism. At least five people have died at the hands of police in Connecticut in 2020.
The report focuses on the role that provisions in municipal and state police contracts play in shielding police employees from meaningful discipline when they harm people, lock towns into guaranteed year-over-year investments in policing, prevent transparency and accountability for police overall, and at times conflict with state laws. The report also includes recommended actions for municipal and state-level policymakers.
“Policing is a political machine in Connecticut, and contract provisions that allow police to avoid meaningful discipline, transparency, and accountability have got to go, as do provisions that guarantee year-over-year increases to police funding,” said Dan Barrett, ACLU of Connecticut legal director. “The State Police contract provision allowing them to avoid Freedom of Information laws is barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bad police contract provisions in Connecticut. Municipal and state-level policymakers have a responsibility to stop bargaining away the people’s rights to hold police accountable, stop agreeing to contracts that increase police funding, and start seeking changes to stop police violence. Changes to contracts alone will not end police harm, but they are a critical tool for dismantling the current system of policing.”
Along with the study, the ACLU of Connecticut has published all of the contracts that it was able to gather after multiple Freedom of Information requests to 102 police agencies in the state, including municipal, state-level, and special agency police. Ansonia, North Haven, Orange, Plainfield, Plymouth, Ridgefield, Suffield, Thomaston, Torrington, Watertown, West Haven, Weston, Winchester, Connecticut State Police, Granby, UConn Health Center, and Yale University police did not respond to the ACLU of Connecticut’s most recent Freedom of Information requests for copies of the latest versions of their contracts (due to a loophole in Connecticut law, Yale may not fall under the state’s FOI law). The State Police did not respond to any requests for copies of their contract; the expired contract on the ACLU of Connecticut’s website reflects the results of an online search. As of the ACLU of Connecticut’s requests, Bethel, Bloomfield, Bristol, Cromwell, East Windsor, Enfield, Monroe, New Britain, Shelton, Stamford, Stonington, Trumbull, Wethersfield, Windsor Locks, the Connecticut State Capitol Police, and Middlebury were still negotiating their contracts; New Haven was still negotiating but has since published its contract online.
According to the contracts gathered, at least 21 localities have police contracts set to expire this month, June 2020: Berlin, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Clinton, East Hampton, East Hartford, East Haven, Groton Long Point, Groton Town, Guilford, Madison, Manchester, Milford, New London, Newtown, Norwalk, Plainville, Redding, Seymour, Westport, and Old Saybrook.
The report and contracts are available on the ACLU of Connecticut’s website: https://www.acluct.org/en/publications/bargained-away-how-local-and-state-governments-connecticut-have-bargained-away-police-0