Lawyers and Legislators Debate Costs and Benefits as Policing Bill is Signed into Law

On Thursday Governor Ned Lamont signed into law “An Act Concerning Police Accountability,” after two late nights of debate in the House and the Senate. The legislation includes more than 40 substantive changes to policing in Connecticut, from new requirements regarding the use of lethal force to provisions for allowing civilian review boards on the municipal level, but the public debate and politics surrounding the bill has nevertheless focused overwhelmingly on Section 41 of the bill, which addresses the issue of qualified immunity for police officers.  Proponents of the bill, including State Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, and State Sen. Gary

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State Senate Approves Wide-Ranging Police Accountability Bill 21 – 15

On Tuesday night, the Connecticut State Senate voted 21 to 15 to approve an expansive police accountability bill including restrictions on qualified immunity and changes to “use of force” guidelines for police officers. “This is an issue about power, about how power is used in communities. This is an issue about cost for communities,” said proponent of the bill State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, in an impassioned speech one hour into the more than 9-hour debate over the contentious bill. “This bill is not about the good officers. It’s about the officers who do not do their job …

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Hamden Approves Purchase of Drone with Federal Coronavirus Funding in Close Vote

Hamden will use part of a federal grant to purchase a drone for its police and fire departments, whose chiefs say that it will help with search and rescue operations. The grant comes from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. The $33,498 DJI Matrice 300 RTK drone, equipped with zooming cameras and thermal imaging, was the most expensive item in the $82,363 grant package that included $26,000 for an update to the Kronos Workforce Telestaff scheduling program, $17,693.69 for personal protective equipment, $1,296.49 for a portable storage shed, $2,163 for two disinfectant sprayers

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House Passes Wide-Ranging Police Accountability Law, Votes Down Amendment to Strip Qualified Immunity Provisions

After more than 22 hours of discussion and debate in the legislative special session, the House of Representatives voted 86 to 58 to approve a wide-ranging police accountability bill written in wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and months of protests against police brutality across the country. The bill was immediately sent to the State Senate. “What we have before us is the best pro-police accountability bill and I’m convinced that the majority of officers in Connecticut would welcome it,” said State Rep. Edwin Vargas, D-Hartford. Prior to the vote, State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, a

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After $3 Million Sweep, a Five-year-old Body Camera Bill With Limited Success for Police Reform

Five years after the Connecticut General Assembly approved a $10 million program to reimburse municipal police departments for purchasing body cameras, less than $6.5 million of that funding has been distributed, and what been distributed was not all designated for body cameras. Small municipalities that haven’t purchased the technology say that the ongoing cost of storing videos and handling freedom of information requests has kept them from using the grant. Now, as nation-wide protests call for increased police transparency in response to police killings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis, some towns are reconsidering the cost.

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Lawmakers Pledge to Move Quickly, as Accountability Task Force Discusses Police Reforms

The Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force, established last year as part of a legislative reform bill, met on Monday for the first time since March.  As task force members discussed ideas to address public concerns with the police – including ways to increase accountability and ways to limit police encounters in the first place – lawmakers said they couldn’t wait for the group’s final report before they start moving legislation to address police accountability. During the task force’s discussion during the Monday meeting, Milford Police Chief Keith Mello and Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik both pointed to the mediation

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