May 29, 2019

Sen. Bradley votes for Legislation
Strengthening Police Accountability Standards

HARTFORD, CT – Today, state Senator Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport) voted in support of legislation that will increase police accountability in the event of use of excessive force. The bill passed unanimously. This legislation comes after several high-profile instances of police in recent months drew attention and spurred protests across Connecticut.

“The harsh reality is that when a person of color puts on the television or opens a newspaper and sees someone that looks like them getting gunned down by law enforcement, part of them knows justice won’t be served to the victim,” said Sen. Bradley. “No community should be subjected to this type of treatment and have to feel hopeless in the aftermath of blatant excessive force. When we hold police accountable, we ensure that the communities they serve truly feel protected by law enforcement. Accountability is not a bad thing, it will improve the relationship police have with members of the communities they police and will stop bad actors from giving law enforcement a bad name in communities of color. I proudly support this legislation.”

Law enforcement units are legally required to create a record detailing any incident where an officer uses force likely to cause serious injury, with instances including use of a club or baton or firing a weapon. Under this new legislation, using a chokehold or engaging in pursuit are both added to that list of requirements under the legislation. That record keeps the officer’s name and the time, place and description of what happened during the incident, as well as any known victims or witnesses.

Beginning in 2020, those records would be reported to state authorities, summarized to show statistics on each use of force incident including race and gender of individuals involved, how often force was used against them, and any injuries suffered as a result.

The legislation would also require dashboard or body camera footage from incidents where an officer is the result of a disciplinary investigation to be released to the public within 48 hours of the officer’s reviewing of that footage or 96 hours if the officer does not review the recording.

Starting in 2020, whenever a person dies after police use of force or an officer uses deadly force, the Division of Criminal Justice would also complete a status report identifying the deceased and giving details of their death within five days of the cause of death becoming available. That report would be sent to the Connecticut General Assembly for review.

After the incident is investigated, the Division of Criminal Justice would file a report determining whether use of force was appropriate, and that report would be made available to the public.

Additionally, a task force to study police transparency and accountability would be created, and the Police Officer Standards and Training Council would study and review use of firearms by police officers engaged in pursuits.

Other changes made by the legislation include:

  • Every five years, starting in 2021, state police officials will adopt and update regulations regarding situations involving police pursuits.
  • Police officers can no longer fire into or at fleeing vehicles without imminent threat of death to another person, and cannot position themselves in front of fleeing motor vehicles.
  • When a pursuit crosses town lines, police departments must inform each other of its continuation.

This legislation comes in response to several incidents of force used by police in Connecticut against members of the public. On April 16, a Hamden police officer and Yale University police officer fired on an unarmed driver and passenger of a vehicle in New Haven, injuring the passenger. The Yale police officer was additionally struck by a bullet fired by the Hamden police officer. On April 20, a Wethersfield police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old driver after a traffic stop. Released dashcam and surveillance videos showed that the officer placed himself in front of the driver’s vehicle as it was in motion, then fired into the front of the vehicle. Both incidents sparked protests and outrage from the public.