Connecticut Senate to vote on police reform bill

The Connecticut Senate took up four bills Tuesday, including the controversial police accountability bill during the special legislative session.

News 12 Staff

Jul 28, 2020, 11:30 AM

Updated 1,427 days ago

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The Connecticut Senate took up four bills Tuesday, including the controversial police accountability bill during the special legislative session.
The House passed the four bills last week.
The Senate convened around 11:15 a.m., and it was the first time they had come together since the Capitol was shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The only bill that has not been voted on is the police accountability bill that was drafted in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and the weeks of Black Lives Matter protests. The state Senate was expected to vote on the bill Tuesday but did not finish debating.
State Sen. Gary Winfield says he has waited three decades for this day.
"Of course it's personal. The stories that we see; how we think about who's left behind when these things happen," he says.
 
It would make sweeping changes to how police operate, including appointing an independent inspector general to investigate excessive force claims.
"We are responding to something that really is a crisis of confidence in our nation right now, and that's why we wanted to take action on it now," says state Sen. Martin Looney, the Senate president.
It would also limit deadly force in Connecticut, require body cameras for all officers, and limit police officers' individual immunity from lawsuits.
The most controversial part of the bill is that officers could be personally sued. The city or town the officer works for would pay for the officer's legal defense if they were to be sued unless a judge finds the officer committed a "willful, wanton or malicious" act.
Opponents say it would hamstring good officers from doing their jobs. Hundreds of law enforcement officers across the state oppose several sections of the bill, calling them "dangerous."
"You can't take that risk because if you're wrong one out of 10 times, you're going to have a liability," says state Sen. Len Fasano.
The bill's supporters say the people have already spoken.
"We had a public hearing on the streets of Connecticut," says Winfield. "We had a public hearing where thousands of people came out; more people than ever attend any public hearing."
Senate Republicans tried to delay the vote, claiming that parts of this bill violate the state constitution. The state attorney general says he is prepared to defend it in court.
Gov. Ned Lamont says he is already committed to sign the bill as is if it passes through the Senate.
Three bills have already passed the Senate.
The first bill that passed is the absentee ballot bill, which allows anyone in the state to vote by mail for the November election due to the pandemic.
"Allowing every voter to cast their ballots by absentee ballot due to COVID-19 was absolutely necessary to making sure that every voter can participate in the 2020 election. No Connecticut voter should ever have to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote. This should be a first step, not a last step however," says Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
Another bill that passed expands access of telehealth coverage through next March.
The third bill capped the cost of insulin co-pays at $25 a month. Critics say it just passes the cost onto everyone else with insurance.
 


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