HARTFORD – For the first time, centralized information about Connecticut police agencies’ contracts and municipal police commissions is available to the public online. Project Flashlight, launched today by the ACLU of Connecticut, is an interactive website that centralizes, summarizes, and maintains information about the powers that town and statewide governments have traded away to police.
“Injustice thrives in the dark. At minimum, people should know what their local governments are doing, especially when it comes to oversight of something as expensive and harmful as police departments. Too often, the state and local governments obscure even basic information about what police are doing, things as simple as the contracts that those governments have chosen to agree to with police. The curtain around policing only benefits the status quo, in which we the people pour money into policing at the expense of other valuable programs and to the disproportionate harm of Black and Latinx people,” said Dan Barrett, ACLU of Connecticut legal director. “Collective bargaining agreements often shield police from accountability, and people have the power to change them. Police commissions could theoretically hold police departments accountable, and people have the power to make them take that direction. We hope Project Flashlight empowers people to make those changes and more.”
“For decades, Connecticut communities have spent more than they can afford, in human and financial costs, on policing, and it’s time to put those resources instead into education, healthcare, infrastructure, jobs, and housing. The transparency brought by Project Flashlight alone won’t fix our state’s system in which police hurt and kill people, especially Black and Latinx people, with impunity and ever-increasing budgets. But information is one form of power, and we hope people will be able to use Project Flashlight to counter misinformation and create real community safety by reducing the size, role, and responsibilities of policing,” said Claudine Fox, ACLU of Connecticut public policy and advocacy director.
Project Flashlight includes four sections of data:
- Contracts contains the agreements that Connecticut municipalities and other entities have made with police, many of which include measures that keep internal discipline out of reach and limit documentation of police misconduct. Of 103 police agencies in Connecticut, 102 are unionized and therefore work under collective bargaining agreements.
- Police commissions identifies the Connecticut cities and towns that have a dedicated police oversight body, indicates whether members of that body are directly elected or appointed, and shows who has been appointed or elected to it.
- When complete, use of force will include data about when police use force "likely to cause serious physical injury" (a definition that exists under state law).
- When complete, suits and settlements will provide information about police who have been sued for their conduct, and what happened in those suits.
The project comes on the heels of a 2020 ACLU of Connecticut report, “Bargained Away,” which found widespread evidence of state and local governments including anti-accountability measures in police contracts.