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Connecticut Legislature To Consider Police Reforms

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Davis Dunavin
/
WSHU
Protestors at New Haven Police headquarters on Friday.

In Connecticut police reform measures will be on the agenda of an upcoming special legislative session this summer. The reforms are in response to ongoing protests over racial discrimination and abuse by police.

State Senate President Martin Looney said there is bipartisan support to take action in the General Assembly.

He said one item likely to be on the agenda is a state mandate for police body cameras. Many police departments do not participate in the current voluntary policy.

“So all police departments have body cameras to document their performance of office, as well as having dashboard cameras. There are still 45 municipalities approximately that do not have body cameras.”

Looney said there’s support to provide state money to help police departments pay for the cameras.

He said lawmakers would also consider establishing an independent oversight body for fatal encounters involving police.

Legislative committees will hold public hearings over the next few weeks to determine the agenda for the expected special session.

Meanwhile, Governor Ned Lamont said the state can take credit for being a leader in holding police accountable, but more has to be done. Lamont spoke at a meeting of the Connecticut Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force, a panel he created with the state legislature last year.

“Now more than ever we've got to give people confidence in terms of our policing tactics. How we reach out to the greater community. And what we can do to do better.”

Lamont urged members to come up with recommendations for legislation that could be passed this summer, including the stricter mandate for police body cameras and dashboard cameras.

“Rather than finding this intrusive, I am finding from the law enforcement I’ve talked to that they feel that it’s a way they can say, ‘hey I’ve been doing my job appropriately and I’m willing to have a body cam.”

Connecticut has a law that requires footage from such cameras be available to the public within four days of an incident.

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As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
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