New police laws target excessive force

All Hamden police officers will soon be equipped with body cameras like this one. (WTNH)


(WTNH) — Starting in July, Connecticut State Police, state university police departments and municipal police departments that receive certain grants monies are required to wear body cameras. Connecticut will become the fifth state in the nation to enact this law.

“I think it’s far better for our society to record these events as best we can to try and reduce them and re-instill confidence in our police officers,” said Quinnipiac Law Professor John Thomas.

A new law that goes into effect on January 1, requires a special prosecutor to investigate claims of excessive use of force.

“Connecticut is attempting to reduce the possibility of public loss of confidence in the process by making sure the prosecutor and police at issue aren’t close colleagues or work together on a day-to-day basis,” Thomas said.

Prosecutors work closely with police, calling them to testify in many cases. That fact creates the perception that prosecutors are reluctant to indict officers. A situation is playing out now in Cleveland, where a grand jury refused to indict two police officers involved in the deadly shooting of 12 year-old Tamir Rice. Protesters are skeptical that the prosecutor tried his best to win an indictment.

“People have no more faith and confidence in the system as a whole,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. “And I think there’s legitimacy to that.”

Another new law on the books January 1, requires written record any time an officer discharges his weapon or uses force likely to cause serious physical injury.

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