Fasano, Witkos, Kissel Applaud Senate Passage of Excessive Force Bill

June 2, 2015

Legislation Promotes Officer Training, Option for Towns to Equip Police with Body Cameras

Hartford – Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven), Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), and Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield), Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, applauded the Senate’s bipartisan passage of legislation that aims to increase police training and provides incentives to municipalities to equip police officers with body cameras while on duty and interacting with the public.

The amended bill, S.B. 1109 An Act Concerning Excessive Use of Force, was passed by the Senate in a unanimous vote early Tuesday morning.

“This legislation protects both the public and our police officers,” said Sen. Fasano. “This is a proactive measure to address the serious issue of excessive force while simultaneously protecting officers from false claims of abuse. I want to thank Senator Looney, Senator Duff, Senator Coleman, Senator Winfield, Senator Kissel, Senator Witkos, our colleagues in the House, and the legislature’s Black & Puerto Rican Caucus for their efforts to work together to incorporate different ideas and put forward a strong bill. I hope the governor shares our passionate support regarding this issue and look forward to seeing our entire state take action to increase awareness and protection for everyone.”

“This represents a truly collaborative effort,” said Sen. Witkos. “This legislation is about being proactive, improving public safety, implementing important cultural training and awareness, and giving police officers across the state an option to engage with new, useful technology.”

“Body cameras are extremely helpful in exonerating an officer or proving a case of brutality,” said Sen. Kissel. “This legislation gives towns an option and an opportunity to secure funding for a body camera program and implement important training measures. We’ve made great sides in other areas over the years, and now we can do the same in law enforcement.”

The bill addresses police use of body cameras as follows:

  • Does not mandate body cameras, but creates an incentive for police departments to voluntarily equip officers with body cameras. Incentive is in the form of a grant in aid reimbursement program including a 100% reimbursement for implementation and storage of information for the first year. Police units that plan to equip in the second year will receive a 50% reimbursement rate.
  • Requires the Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) and Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) to work together to create a list of acceptable body cameras.
  • Includes provisions for the utilization of body cameras including when and where cameras need to be turned on.

Other elements of the bill would:

  • Require police units to enhance outreach and make efforts to recruit, retain and promote minority officers in communities with a high concentration of minority residents.
  • Require tactical training for police officers regarding the use of physical force, training in the use of body cameras, and cultural sensitivity and bias-free police training.
  • Require police officers to note if there is use of force in a situation when carrying out their duties and keep track of this information.
  • In cases involving use of deadly force, the Chief State’s Attorney will appoint someone outside of the county to conduct an investigation.
  • -Prohibits police officers from interfering with a person recording them, aside from specified exempt situations such as to preserve the integrity of a crime scene or for reasons of public safety.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. The legislative session ends on June 3.