Police departments will have to meet new standards for accepting complaints of misconduct under legislation that was prompted by an ACLU of Connecticut report and passed by the state legislature last week.

Senate Bill 55, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign into law, directs the Police Officer Standards and Training Council to develop a model policy by July 15, 2015 that addresses many of the issues raised in the 2012 report Protect, Serve and Listen: Accepting Civilian Complaints at Connecticut Police Departments, published by the ACLU of Connecticut. Police departments will have to adopt that policy or a more stringent one, make copies available at the police station and another municipal building and post it on the Web.

"Our report described considerable inconsistency in how police departments handle complaints, and we hear too often from civilians who are turned away when they try to register concerns about racial profiling or other forms of misconduct," said David McGuire, staff attorney for the ACLU of Connecticut. "This legislation will improve and standardize the process to the benefit of everyone."

The report found that many police departments in the state set barriers to accepting misconduct complaints by failing to make complaint forms available, refusing to accept anonymous complaints, imposing time limits on receiving complaints and requiring sworn statements or threatening criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit for false statements. The report's recommendations, which will be taken up by the training council, reflect best practices supported by the Department of Justice, the International Associations of Chiefs of Police and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The bill passed the state Senate 35-0 on May 2 and the state House of Representatives 95-50 on May 7, the final day of the 2014 legislative session. In 2013, a nearly identical bill passed the state House 124-9 but did not reach the Senate floor for a vote.

"This important new law is largely the result of a sustained effort by the ACLU of Connecticut's staff, interns, volunteers and lobbyists," Executive Director Andrew Schneider said. "The legislators who voted for it have advanced transparency and accountability in law enforcement, which will in turn build community trust and enhance the safety of the public and of police officers."

Stay informed

ACLU of Connecticut is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National