July 30, 2020

Highlights of ‘An Act Concerning Police Accountability’

This legislation is designed to provide additional accountability for police departments across the state to improve public interaction and to ensure officers are held responsible if they act in an unacceptable manner. It takes significant steps to overhaul current practices, including the following:

Requires police officers and correctional officers to intervene when a colleague is using excessive illegal force. If the onlooking officer does not intervene, then he or she may be charged for the same acts as the officer breaking the law.

Demilitarizes the police through the following measures:

  • Bans the acquisition of military grade equipment on the Department of Defense federal control list.
  • DESPP is authorized to order police departments dispose of certain pieces of equipment currently in possession.
  • Prohibits any such equipment in possession from being used for crowd control or intimidation tactics.

Entirely overhauls police training in the state by enacting the following:

  • All future training would be conducted by the Police Officers Standards and Training Council (POST), which would be restructured with new members and more oversight. This would be a significant shift from our current system where police training varies from state police to town police, and from town to town.
  • All officers will be mandated to receive implicit bias training.
  • Statewide standard would be developed for crowd control.

Sets standards for applicable for police departments across the state. Starting in 2025, and going forward, each police department must obtain and maintain accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.

  • POST will use its resources to assist departments to achieve accreditation if it is not obtained or lost in future years.
  • The benefit of accreditation goes beyond building community trust, it also promotes accountability within the department and lowers risk of liability.

Authorizes an independent statewide council to revoke the certification of any police officer. Allowing POST to suspend or revoke an officer’s certification will ensure independent review is conducted of police misconduct.

  • Disciplinary records would be made available to the public through FOIA
  • If an officer’s certification is revoked, he or she would be barred from working for another department or as a private security officer

Eliminates qualified immunity for claims against police officers who in bad faith violate a person’s equal protection rights. This immunity prevents legal claims against officers for discretionary acts that are not willful or reckless.

  • This change will make the state, towns, and officers more accountable for their actions, and make law enforcement adjust the way they have operated.

Establishes a new independent Office of the Inspector General to investigate deaths caused by police. Since 2001, 76 people have died in our state when an officer used a gun or other deadly force. After investigations by the State’s Attorney Office, only one officer was charged with a crime, and there was no conviction. The State’s Attorneys develop close relationships with police to ensure our laws are enforced, but those relations can also create conflicts of interest, which we can eliminate with a new independent Inspector General’s office.

Prohibits officers from searching you or your car simply by asking for your consent.If an officer asks to conduct a search, people often feel obligated to give consent despite their right to say no because they are afraid of escalating a situation with law enforcement or being charged for disobeying an officer.

  • An officer cannot search a person without probable cause, and cannot search a car without probable cause or the driver’s unsolicited consent.