Council 4 Calls for Changes to Police Accountability Bill

Dec. 1, 2020 – Testifying before the Logistics Subcommittee of the Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force, Council 4 representatives called for changes to the police accountability bill that went into effect Oct. 1, 2020.

Sgt. Jeff Reimer, President of the East Windsor Police Union and Chairman the Council 4 Public Safety Committee, and Council 4 Staff Representative-Attorney Lorin Dafoe spoke before the subcommittee. They highlighted problems and flaws with the bill that the legislature should fix in the 2021 General Assembly.

“When a horrific incident, such as the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota occurs, it seems that many Connecticut citizens perceive that it or something similar is happening here. The available information shows that it is not,” Reimer testified by way of Zoom. “ In our state of 3.5 million citizens there have been four citizens killed during interactions with police. While every death is undoubtedly a tragedy, this shows that the problems which may be facing our country at large are not facing Connecticut, and we should carefully consider this when analyzing this bill."

He added, “We believe that the negative public perception of police officers, unfairly caused by out of state incidents and an overemphasis on negatives, has resulted in increased retirements of officers and a problem in attracting new young officers. This adds an increased burden to existing officers, who perform a job under stressful circumstances that are inherent to the job.”

Dafoe pointed out some of the constitutional defects in the new accountability bill, including the deadly force standard, qualified immunity and officer decertification.

“We would like to see [the deadly force standard] section of the law repealed, as it is unconstitutional and it creates a very real officer safety issue,” Dafoe said, while recommending face-to-face training for officers. 

“If the goal is accountability and protection of our citizens, then we should be prepared to invest the money required to educate our officers on what is being required of them,” she said.

Dafoe also pointed out the serious damage that could result from weakening qualified immunity. “Qualified immunity protects government officials, including law enforcement officers, as well as the public from frivolous civil lawsuits,” she testified. This is important because frivolous lawsuits against government officials incur costs to society as well as to the individual defendant.

Fixing the police accountability bill is among Council 4’s legislative priorities heading into the upcoming legislation session.

The General Assembly will convene Jan. 6, 2021, and will operate under strict COVID-19 protocols, meaning the session will be virtual, with no visitors or lobbyists allowed in the Legislative Office Building or State Capitol complex.