Gov. Ned Lamont signed the controversial police accountability bill Friday, but the work is hardly done.
Police are still largely opposed to the bill, and in order for it to work, lawmakers need to find a way to win their support.
Police loudly opposed the bill that requires them to display their names and badge numbers on the outside of their clothes.
It also allows cities and towns to create civilian review boards that have subpoena power, requires body and dashcam cameras, and creates a new independent office of inspector general to investigate deadly use of force incidents.
“You know us, we have no problem with transparency and accountability,” Andrew Matthews, president of the Connecticut State Police Union, said. “We’ve had body cameras, dashboard cameras our name tags and badges being required to be displayed for a long time. We have no problem with training. We have no problem with oversight of our membership.”
Matthews says they do have a problem with the part of the bill that requires complaints against troopers to be made public.
“We believe it’s a violation of the constitution of the United States under Article 1 section 10. We believe it’s an impairment of the current collective bargaining agreement,” Mathews says.
They are also concerned about the part that changes how qualified immunity is applied.
“This bill has a psychological impact on every police officer. And they’re worried about not just being disciplined. They’re worried about being terminated. They’re worried about being arrested or prosecuted and sent to prison,” Matthews said.
Rep. Steve Stafstrom who helped draft the bill says there is misinformation that needs to be corrected.
“I think it’s probably more important than ever that we as legislators work with and reach out to police departments and officers and the community-at-large to explain the nuances of this bill,” Stafstrom says.
Stafstrom says officers face little additional risk of personal liability under this bill than they did before.
Both sides say there’s plenty of time to continue these conversations.
The qualified immunity portion of the bill doesn’t go in effect until next July. The use of force provision doesn’t go into effect until next April.
“It’s always been my intent to work on language tweaks as we implement this bill," Stafstrom said.