Contact: Lawrence Cook
April 19, 2012
State Senator Gary D. LeBeau (D-East Hartford) voted today in support of two new bills designed to bring greater accountability to police departments with regard to reporting detailed traffic stop information and recording of police activity by civilians.
Sen. LeBeau voted for Senate Bill 364, which requires police departments to begin recording all traffic stop information with new, updated forms as of January 1, 2013, and Senate Bill 245, which makes peace officers potentially liable for damages for interfering with a person taking a photograph or video of them while performing their duties.
“I have been a longtime supporter of our local police, and I believe these two bills will help police be more accountable to, and more accepted by, local citizens,” Sen. LeBeau said. “There’s the occasional bad apple in every profession. And there have certainly been some high-profile instances of police misconduct where racial profiling or videotape came into play. These traffic stop and public filming laws will help improve police-community relations and will improve public safety overall.”
Sen. LeBeau noted that the public filming of police bill—of which he is a co-sponsor—was inspired and supported by former East Hartford resident Father James Manship, Pastor of Saint Rose de Lima Church of New Haven. In February 2009, Father Manship was falsely arrested by East Haven police officers while videotaping officers harassing Latino business owners. The FBI later arrested four East Haven police officers on charges including multiple counts of excessive force, false arrest, obstruction and conspiracy as part of an investigation into alleged profiling and mistreatment of Latino residents.
Senate Bill 364 suspends on July 1 a municipal police departments’ existing duty to record and report traffic stop information; it requires them to resume recording the information starting on January 1, 2013 and reporting summary data on October 1, 2013, if new standardized traffic-stop reporting forms are developed.
The new traffic stop form must contain: the stop location; the race, color, ethnicity, age, and gender of the driver, with the characteristics based on the officer's observation and perception; the nature of the alleged traffic violation; the disposition of the stop including whether a warning or citation was issued, search was conducted, or arrest made; and any other appropriate information.
The bill also requires the form to include: the date and time of the stop; the officer's name and badge number; whether the stop was for a violation other than a traffic violation, and the statutory citation for the traffic or other violation; whether a summons was issued in conjunction with the disposition; and a notice that the person stopped may file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency and how to do so, if the person believes the stop, detention, or search was solely because of his or her race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, or sexual orientation.
Senate Bill 245 makes peace officers potentially liable for damages for interfering with a person taking a photograph, digital still, or video image of either the officer or a colleague performing his or her job duties.
“Any officers performing their duties in accordance with their training and the law should welcome the recording of their activities by the public,” said Father Manship. “Transparency enforces trust. I support this bill.”
Under the bill, officers cannot be found liable if they reasonably believed that the interference was necessary to (1) lawfully enforce a criminal law or municipal ordinance; (2) protect public safety; (3) preserve the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation; (4) safeguard the privacy of a crime victim or other person; or (5) enforce Judicial Branch rules and policies that limit taking photographs, videotaping, or otherwise recording images in branch facilities.
Member: Legislative Management
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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