State Sen. Anwar calls for new division of state police to investigate hate crimes, extremist groups
Lawmakers are calling for the creation of a whole new division of the state police to help prevent attacks like the one at the Capitol.
Everyone has seen the video of a U.S. Capitol Police officer fighting for his life. Prosecutors say Patrick Edward McCaughey, of Ridgefiled, squeezed a Capitol Police officer with a riot shield.
"Of course, I was heartbroken when I saw this," says state Sen. Saud Anwar.
Sen. Anwar says it's time Connecticut did a better job tracking potential threats. He has introduced a bill that looks to create a whole new division of the state police to "investigate hate crimes and extremist groups."
"I'm envisioning more of a specialist group that is actually going to deal with the intelligence gathering part," says Anwar.
Currently, state police typically wait for a tip from the public. Connecticut does have a Joint Terrorism Task Force along with the FBI.
"I don't think they have police officers that just constantly monitor Facebook and Twitter," says Andy Matthews, president of the Connecticut State Police Union.
The question is: if there is a task force already, does the state need a whole new division?
Mike Lawlor, of the University of New Haven, says he thinks the focus of the group should be shifted.
"It historically has been focused on overseas terrorism coming to the United States--coming to Connecticut," says Lawlor. "I think that group needs to be re-focused."
Gov. Ned Lamont is not sold on the idea of a new division yet, saying, "Let me get back to you on that. That's the first I've heard about it."
Staffing a new division could be a problem. State police are trying to get their numbers back up.
Former Gov. Dannel Malloy's ex-criminal justice chief says you don't necessarily need more uniformed troopers.
"You don't need a gun and a badge to scan what's being posted on social media and bring it to the attention of people who do have guns and badges," says Lawlor.
The head of the state police union says he believes there is already enough staff for a new unit. He says detectives would likely come from the Major Crimes Unit.