HARTFORD – The Connecticut state police union today announced that it filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a new provision of Connecticut law regarding open records. The law prohibits police collective bargaining agreements, including those of state and local police agencies, from barring the disclosure of certain records of disciplinary action in a sworn police employee’s personnel file. The following is a reaction from ACLU of Connecticut executive director David McGuire:
“In a democracy, the people have a right to know what our government is doing in our names, yet the state police union’s lawsuit ultimately seeks to hide police disciplinary records from the public. Government transparency is particularly critical when the government employees in question carry guns and handcuffs, and it is doubly important when the records in question are about violence or other misconduct on the part of those employees. Police disciplinary and internal affairs records are essential tools not only for assessing individual officers’ histories, but for determining a police agency’s patterns of behavior when confronted with cases of police violence or other misconduct. We’ve seen the consequences of shielding police disciplinary records from the public with New York’s disastrous and recently-repealed 50-a law, and Connecticut’s legislature did the right thing when it passed this provision to prevent our state from going further down a similar path. The legislature has the authority and responsibility to protect the public’s right to access police disciplinary records.”
The Connecticut state police recently denied an open records request from a Hearst reporter seeking information about troopers’ disciplinary records, citing a contract provision.