FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRESS CONTACT: RICH DEECKEN (203) 615-8527
TRUMBULL 07/28/2020 – Steve Choi, the Republican candidate for State Senate in District 22, which includes the municipalities of Trumbull, Bridgeport, and Monroe, issued the following statement regarding the recent passage of HB 6004, An Act Concerning Police Accountability, in the CT House of Representatives:
In the early morning hours on Thursday, July 23rd, at the State Capitol Building, lawmakers deadlocked on an amendment that would eliminate language stripping police officers of qualified immunity in the current draft of the police reform bill. There were 18 Democrats who joined with 54 Republican representatives, including Trumbull’s state reps while 1 Republican voted with 71 Democrat representatives. The 72-72 tie in the House resulted in the failure of the amendment to pass, and the existing language eliminating qualified immunity for police was approved by the House in a final vote of 86-58, with 7 abstentions.
On Tuesday, July 28th, the bill will be addressed by the CT Senate. While questions regarding the constitutionality of other provisions of the bill, including the creation of the office of inspector general, are being raised, the crux of the legislation still concerns the elimination of qualified immunity for police officers. A recent article in the Trumbull Times summarized the critiques made by Trumbull Police Commission Chairman Ray Baldwin on why the current draft of the bill should be reconsidered.
Most, if not all, of the objections raised by Chairman Baldwin are valid, and serve as a good point of reference on issues, especially the recruitment of new police officers, and retention of existing officers. Trumbull State Senator Marilyn Moore should consider these objections before the vote. Unfortunately, she could not be reached for comment.
Bi-partisan concern exists about qualified immunity. Allowing police officers to be sued in civil court will ultimately impact local government. Cities and towns will bear the cost of insurance liability for police officers. If you do not local government will incur more financial burdens because of this bill, wait until the next municipal budget passes, and the next police union contract is negotiated. For example, a monthly premium for liability insurance for one police officer will cost $2,000; the yearly cost will be $24,000. This is yet another unfunded tax mandate from Hartford that awaits every city and town in Connecticut beginning July 1, 2021.
Civil action insurance coupled with “real de-funding” of police departments will continue the current trend where more new people purchase firearms for home defense. Recently, the argument was made that residents do not need to purchase a gun if they had access to protection through the municipal police force. For those voters who would like to see less firearms in the hands of civilians, the current police accountability bill will accelerate the trend of civilian firearms ownership, not decrease it.
CT State Senators should postpone the vote on the bill to ensure all aspects of the legislation are properly vetted. We owe it to the community and law enforcement officials to get it right and not rush through the process.
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