State Rep. Steve Stafstrom, House chair of the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee, explains what’s in the recently approved police reform bill.
This week, the state Senate followed the state House in passing HB 6004, An Act Concerning Police Accountability, a landmark bill on police reform which responds to the call for change that is sweeping our nation. There is a lot of misinformation circulating about both the contents of the bill and the process that led us to this so I wanted to try to set the record straight.
This bill was not rushed or crafted without public input. To the contrary, the bill was negotiated over several weeks with the Republican leaders of the Judiciary Committee at the table every step of the way. They were involved in each draft of the process and had a say in which provisions were included in the bill. The bill was scrutinized through a 12-hour public hearing and the committee chairmen held several meetings with interest groups representing police and, in fact, revised the bill to address many of their major concerns.
What does the bill do?
Encourages more minority recruitment in police departments
Requires periodic drug tests and behavioral health screens of officers
Increases police officer’s access to mental health care and protecting them against retaliation for seeking it
Requires implicit bias training and de-escalation in crowd control
Gives cities and towns an easier path to fire the “bad apples” or decertify those cops engaged in conduct unbecoming of law enforcement, such as using excess force or exhibiting racist behavior
Allows for public review of police discipline records
Provides more local civilian oversight of police departments through citizen review boards
Mandates and provides funding for body and dashboard cameras
Bans police departments from having quotas for pedestrian stops
Ends the practice of allowing police to pull over Black drivers and searching their car without cause
Brings the justifiable use of deadly force standard in line with federal law
Requires witnessing officers to intervene when they see a colleague use excess force and protect those who report it.
Allows for independent investigations of deadly police shootings
Increases penalties for making a false police report based on race, gender, national origin or sexual identity
Provides a limited civil cause of action where an individual’s civil rights have been violated by a police officer who did not have a good faith belief that they were acting within their legal authority
To all of you who have marched in support of Black Lives Matter, posted flags or signs in your yard, or put up black squares on their social media channels, this historic change is a result of your advocacy. Thank you!