Steve Choi, Republican candidate for State Senate in the 22nd District that includes Trumbull, Bridgeport and Monroe, issued the following statement regarding LCO 3471, An Act Concerning Police Accountability:
Following a national tragedy, we all feel the immediate need to take action to ensure that this injustice never happens again. However, we should not succumb to emotion, rush discussion, and pass judgement on flawed legislation that has the potential to adversely affect public safety for years to come.
Let me begin by noting that there are several positive provisions in the current draft of the police accountability bill including the following:
— Expansion of outfitting all municipal police cruisers with dash cams and providing body cams for all police officers.
— Five-year required mental health assessments of police officers.
–The addition of the “duty to intervene to stop the use of excessive force.”
Unfortunately, the bill addresses other issues that can be considered a hindrance to reform. In particular, the establishment of a civil cause of action against police officers and the loss of qualified immunity of police officers will forever change how a police officer chooses to assess, engage, and respond in dangerous situations. If a police officer is left questioning whether or when to act, tragedies will be inevitable. “To serve and protect the community,” will become “insure and protect oneself,” if the current version of the bill becomes law. Every potentially dangerous encounter becomes a no-win situation for law enforcement officers. Police officers rely on their training and the code of conduct; these are policies and procedures that evolve over time. We should always be updating, improving, and providing more training for our officers to ensure public safety.
We can all do better; police officers are no exception to this rule. This rule applies to legislators as well. The discussion has just begun, but two weeks in a hurried special session is not enough time to end the debate on reform. Let’s do better, let’s get this right, and let’s continue the conversation with law enforcement into the next legislative session.