By DAVE RACKLIFFE
To the Editor:
The State House of Representatives and the State Senate passed a bill - HB6004 - that includes a series of reforms aimed at police accountability, including the removal of qualified immunity.
In the days and weeks following the senseless murder of George Floyd, protests and rallies have focused on police and race relations and how can we make lives better. We have noted the frequency of black citizens being gunned down by police and have looked for ways to change behaviors through better training, better vetting of candidates and better de-escalation techniques to reduce the risk of a gun being drawn. HB6004 has gone further and made all police liable for civil penalties. This legislation will punish all officers for the actions of a few bad apples and put them all at risk. As Rep. Themis Klarides pointed out, this bill has divided us into two camps: pro-police and anti-police. The support or lack of support of the qualified immunity section determines your camp. There is no middle ground.
Why would a person want to be a police officer now, knowing full well that a split-second decision could expose the officer and his/her family to civil penalties that could cost them their future? This bill is a trial lawyer’s dream and, not surprisingly, was supported by the CT Trial Lawyers Association. Crafted in the month of July, presented to the public as a listening session with online testimony and debated in the House for 8 hours beginning at 1:20 AM, this very important legislation was not given its due diligence and the people of the State of Connecticut are once again the victim. Despite the presence of a highly qualified task force who had done great work on examining the issues, the leadership felt the need to ram this through a special session in one day.
We must do better with the legislative process. We must not allow the political sideshow to subvert sound legislative deliberation. The passage of this bill is another example of the lack of balance the legislature has experienced over the last 40-plus years. The people of Connecticut have an opportunity to restore this balance in November. We can do better…
Republican Candidate for State Representative