DANBURY – Republican Senate nominee Leora Levy hosted a law and order roundtable with police officers, members of a Drug Enforcement Administration program and drug prevention advocates to discuss fentanyl, border control and the police accountability law.
“These problems are all self-inflicted. I should say, actually, they’re not self-inflicted – they’re inflicted by Biden’s destructive policies, rubber stamped by my opponent Dick Blumenthal,” Levy said to the panel.
Asked about challenges for law enforcement by Levy, John Krupinsky, president of the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police, said police are facing a respect issue stemming from demonization by Democrats.
“People may not have liked us, but they always showed us respect,” Krupinsky said. “It’s our politicians – these left wing liberals – that have led the way to say it’s okay to disrespect the police.”
Krupsinky said officers are leaving the field at a rapid rate across municipalities, states and the country. He said there would be no one to answer calls if the country continued to move in the current direction.
Ralph Friedman, a retired NYPD detective, also placed the blame on Democrats.
“We need our judges, we need our courts, politicians and parole board to back the police up in what they do,” Friedman said. “It seems like the far-left politicians and the Democrats are swayed out of line with what’s common sense.”
Robert Lawlor, an intelligence officer with DEA’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, declined comment on the matter, but provided insight into fentanyl prevention.
Lawlor said rather than focusing on one approach, both public health and public safety are necessary.
“We need law enforcement and we need laws that help us do that, but we also need to understand that addiction is a disease and people that have a substance use disorder need treatment and they need help,” Lawlor said.
The state Department of Public Health found that the majority of unintentional drug overdoses were linked to opioid use. The department said that the 2020 Connecticut age-adjusted rate for drug-induced mortality was 39.1 per 100,000 population compared to the 2020 national rate of 28.3.
Lawlor continued, saying both a lack of funding and shortage in the workforce contribute to the problem.
Friedman said that the laws in place are good and police were making progress stopping fentanyl sales, but said open borders allowed drugs to flow into the country freely.
“The open borders are just bringing in drugs and drug addicts and drug dealers,” Friedman said. “And we need the politicians to stop the open borders.”
“That’s one of my key platforms, frankly, is closing that border,” Levy responded.
Lisa Dean, founder of Demand Zero, detailed the loss of her son due to an opioid addiction. She said that the worst part of running a nonprofit was getting governmental support.
Dean said she asked Gov. Ned Lamont to discuss the rise in fentanyl trafficking and asked Blumenthal to sign a resolution classifying illicit fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. Dean said she has not received a meeting with either.
“I would love, if and when you get in, if you would take this cause up,” Dean said to Levy.
“Absolutely,” said Levy.
In addition to halting the trafficking of fentanyl and securing the Southern border, Levy said that after reading the police accountability law, passed in 2020, she made the restoration of qualified immunity a priority.
Krupinsky said that as an officer, he had questioned portions of the law. He recalled attending hearings in the legislature, and inquiring about deadly force alternatives,
“I asked, ‘What does that mean? Does that mean I got to try to hit him with my nightstick? I got to try to spray him with OC spray before I shoot this guy when he’s pointing a gun at me? What does that mean?’ No one could tell me, and they honestly don’t know themselves,” Krupinsky said.
Levy said the law created an anti-police climate in Connecticut. She said there were no parts of the law that she agreed with, before clarifying.
“The use of cameras, I believe, is a good thing,” Levy said. “It actually validates a lot of what the police encounter on the streets.”
Levy said that if she were in the legislature at the time, she would have voted against it and done everything she could to ensure it didn’t pass.
“But it’s very difficult when you’re in a minority as Republicans have been in this state. Hopefully that will change on November 8,” Levy said.