Police Accountability Legislation Announced

July 13, 2020

Co-chairs and ranking members of the Committee on Judiciary stood outside the Capitol this morning to announce LCO #3471 An Act Concerning Police Accountability (AACPA).

The bill spans over 60 pages and covers over 40 sections, all related to police accountability and transparency as we respond to this moment. It builds upon some of the work that was done in 2015, in 2017 and again last year to keep Connecticut at the forefront of reform.

AACPA now awaits a public hearing and if passed would enact the following provisions:
  • The Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), which provides certification and trainings to officers statewide, will be reconstituted (see Section 13), which includes the sunsetting of current membership on December 31, 2020 and the cleaning up of criteria for appointment, including the requirements that justice-impacted persons be members and a diversification of the size of towns represented. Under AAPCA, 6 appointments will be made by legislative leaders. If a member misses 50% or more of meetings in calendar year, they lose their seat. 
  • POST will issue annual reporting on minority recruitment efforts at local police departments to the state {see Sections 10, 11)
  • AACPA creates requirements for officers.
    • Officers must become POST certified (see Sections 1-4).
    • Periodic mental health screenings will be required at a Chief’s discretion where there is a cause; a screening must be conducted no less than every 5 years and when an officer changes departments. A carve out will be made for officers who are nearing retirement (see Sections 3.24, 16).
    • Uniform officers must have name and badge number readily visible on outermost garment. This does not apply to those undercover (see Section 14).
  • AACPA updates training requirements in the following ways:
    • Individuals providing police training at Police Departments or at the and academy must be certified in their field of expertise, such as implicit bias (see Line 42-43).
    • POST will develop crowd control model policy (see Sections 5, 6).
    • POST will require implicit bias training (see Section 7)
  • Disciplinary records of officers will be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests (see Section 8, 9).
  • AACPA would make the following changes to municipal Police Departments:
    • Municipalities will have the ability to appoint citizen review boards and extend subpoena power to those review boards through local legislative bodies (see Section 17).
    • Local Police Departments will be requested to review the need to engage more social worker-based responses, either with an officer or by themselves (see Section 18).
    • Body and dashboard cameras will be mandatory for officers interacting with public; this mandate will include funding for storage and allow the Office of Policy and management the ability to set conditions for grant funding (see Sections 19, 20).
    • Quotas for pedestrian stops are banned, with such quotas already banned on traffic stops (see Sections 38, 39).
  • AACPA works to tighten the type of military-grade equipment local municipalities can buy through the federal 1033 program in an effort to de-militarize departments (see Section 40).
  • Consent searches of vehicles will be banned unless there is probable cause (see Section 21, 22).
  • AACPA addresses Use of Force: 
    • An objectively reasonable standard will be required for an officer to use force, meaning that an officer has exhausted all reasonable alternatives, that the force creates no significant risk of injury to a third party, and that such use of force to be necessary.
    • No tactic to restrain oxygen and blood flow to the head, including chokeholds and strangleholds, can be used unless it’s deemed necessary to protect oneself or save the live of someone else (see Lines 1257-1264).
    • Officers must intervene and report excesses use of force to their local Police Departments; whistleblower protections will be provided to those who do (see Section 30).
  • AACPA allows POST the ability to conduct hearings and make determinations, which include the ability to suspend, censor, or decertify an officer. POST can can make these determinations when an officer has engaged in conduct that undermines public confidence in law enforcement or when an officer uses excess or unjustifiable force (see Section 3.c 2). If an officer is de-certified by POST, they cannot be employed as a security guard (see Section 31, 32).
  • AACPA also creates an Independent Office of the Inspector General (IG), which will be housed under the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Division of Criminal Justice (see Section 33, 34). 
    • Use of Force investigations would be conducted by independent IG with prosecutorial authority.
    • The IG would be nominated by the Chief State’s Attorney with a public hearing required before the Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the Legislature on a 4-year term.
    • The IG can refer cases to POST for de-certification.
    • The IG’s staff would include an associate attorney, chief investigator and possible administrator who can come from the State’s attorney office.
  • AAPCA would implement Increased penalties for making a false police report based on race, gender, national origin sexual identity (see Section 24-28).
  • The AAPCA would call for the creation of a state cause of action for civil rights violations (see Section 41).
  • The Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force’s work would continue, focused on the following areas (see Section 12):
    • The Task Force would look at how to increase minority recruitment. 
    • It would look to see if the state should require officers to carry professional liability insurance.
    • It would look into what it would mean to ban no knock warrants.

A draft of the bill can be accessed online by clicking here.