Fasano: Proposed Police Bill Will Lead to Reactionary Policing, Leave Neighborhoods Less Safe

July 28, 2020

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement regarding House Bill No. 6004 An Act Concerning Police Accountability, which the state Senate is expected to debate and vote on today:


“We all want to make Connecticut safer for every person in our state. We want to be able to fire officers who do not live up to their oaths to serve and protect all people. We want to hold bad actors accountable when they do something unacceptable and damage the public’s trust in all officers. But the reality is the police reform bill in its current form does not achieve these goals. The devil is in the details, and I have a long list of grave concerns regarding the legal issues this bill raises. The overall effect of these issues is that police officers will not be able to proactively police. They will be left with little choice but to let bad things happen before they are able to act.  Instead of preventing fires, they will have to wait until they see flames to step in.


“I have heard many people say if a police officer is acting appropriately then they have nothing to fear in this bill. But that simply is not true. Let’s be very clear about the laws that exist today. No police officer can use qualified immunity to deflect criminal charges. Therefore, eliminating qualified immunity does nothing to change the current system of what happens when an officer uses excessive force. What the bill does is make officers civilly liable for complaints related to undefined actions, to be determined by the courts on a case by case basis. Connecticut courts will be left to decide what is or is not an infringement of someone’s constitutional right, and officers’ personal assets and reputations will be put on the line time and time again as the courts shape policy. Under this system, officers will second guess any and all actions, even ones that are justified and in accordance with every best practice there is, because the risk of a personal lawsuit damaging their careers and their families will always be present.


“If policing becomes only reactionary, communities will be less safe. Situations will escalate. Police officers’ lives will be more at risk, and therefore so will the lives of all people they are sworn to protect. Our urban communities will feel these effects far greater than low crime areas. In addition, more burdens on towns and cities will lead to social service cuts or the defunding of police, hurting everyone and most damaging Connecticut’s poorest communities.


“I’ve heard many individuals repeatedly state this bill is not ‘anti-cop,’ but police officers every day are telling us that this bill makes them fear for public safety. We are hearing accounts of young officers giving up their careers and older officers rushing to retire. Already declining recruitment will be decimated at the worst time possible. Now more than ever we need to attract the best and brightest to protect the public and build new relationships, but this bill will have a chilling effect on those efforts.


“I hope this legislation will be closely examined by all members of the Senate before voting today and the debate will be an important conversation. I believe more dialogue can and should be had on this issue and I urge my colleagues not to rush to pass something that does not achieve the goals we all share.”