‘We Can Do Better': Calls to Reform, Defund Police in CT

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In the wake of the death of George Floyd, there have been calls to start defunding police departments across the country.

While Gov. Ned Lamont says he is against that move, some in Hartford are pushing the idea forward, among other potential changes.

Outside the State Capitol in Hartford, Bishop John Selders from Moral Monday CT and others starting a fast on Monday.

“We decided it was time to do to lean into our faith a bit,” said Selders.

They’re calling for a legislative session with the first priority being reforming police.

“I believe we can do better than what we have now,” said Selders.

Selders is in favor of abolishing policing as it’s known now and argues social services could better handle many calls.

Governor Lamont answers a question about what he thinks about the rallying call to defund police across the country.

“There’s a lot of cities that are the same size of us, roughly the same crime rate, roughly the same poverty rate. None of them have anywhere near the police we have,” said Josh Michtom, a Hartford councilman.

Michtom is among those now pushing for the city’s police department funding to be cut by up to 25%.

He believes the department should focus more on community policing and the roughly $9 million saved could be better spent on social programs.

“A ton of research has been done on this over many, many years and no one has found a correlation between the number of police going up and down and crime going up and down,” said Michtom.

But the Hartford Police Union believes cuts would “have an adverse effect on how we respond when the police are needed.”

The union is also concerned slashing jobs would undo years of work to boost minority numbers, now making up 40% of the force.

Mayor Luke Bronin worries defunding could hurt community policing and instead thinks this could be a time for reforms – including increased oversight of police - on top of steps already taken.

“We took police out of schools. We stopped buying military surplus equipment. We rolled out body cameras. We adopted a very progressive use of force policy,” said Mayor Bronin.

A vote on the city budget, including police, could take place in the coming days.

On Monday the council voted to create a new police review board to come up with recommendations including for hiring and training.

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