Freshmen State Rep. Fred Gee and State Senator Herron Gaston, both city ministers, have submitted legislation to The General Assembly requiring police officers to inform drivers of the reason for a motor vehicle stop. The bill was referred to the Public Safety Committee chaired by Gaston. Gee is also a member of the committee.
Language from the bill:
That the general statutes be amended to require that a police officer who stops a motor vehicle inform the driver of the reason for the stop, require police officers to be trained to properly provide such information in a manner that fosters positive interactions with community members and require evaluation of implementation of such requirement to ensure transparency and public trust in law enforcement interactions.
Statement of Purpose: To promote transparency and trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve by mandating that officers provide the reason for a vehicle stop.
In the commentary that follows Gee writes “We will be working to move this legislation along this session and hope improved communication protocols will help save lives. We can’t save everybody, but we can certainly save somebody.”
I read and watched with grave apprehension the recent traffic stop turned tragedy of motorist Tyre Nichols who was beaten and killed by officers in Memphis, Tennessee. These incidents should alert and raise concern in our state to do all we can to not repeat these traffic stops that turn into disasters.
Police Officers have a dangerous job and I commend anyone who serves and protects our state’s and country’s communities. However, I often wonder how a traffic stop turns deadly–a traffic ticket shouldn’t end with someone losing their life at the hands of law enforcement.
Non-compliance, or perceived non-compliance during a traffic stop should not lead to a fatality unless there is an imminent threat to the life of an officer. It seems like these incidents happen more often in communities of color as studies show minorities are pulled over in greater numbers than others. A number of years ago, Connecticut passed legislation, The Alvin Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act, named after former Senator Alvin Penn, to address this disparate traffic law enforcement in our state.
It’s a start and although we cannot stop all fatal encounters between motorists and police officers, as legislators we can do something to open better pathways to communication. Establishing clear communication and transparency guidelines between constituents and police officers is paramount to help further address this issue and to increase safety for motorists and officers alike.
This session, I along with Senator Herron Gaston, introduced a bill referred to the Public Safety Committee to create better communication pathways. SB-223, An Act Requiring Police Officers to Inform a Driver of The Reason for a Traffic Stop, will promote transparency and trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve by mandating that officers provide the reason for a vehicle stop.
We will be working to move this legislation along this session and hope improved communication protocols will help save lives. We can’t save everybody, but we can certainly save somebody.