Rep. Matt Ritter of Hartford told his colleagues in the House on Tuesday to Google “Doug Glanville” to learn more about the incident that prompted him to introduce legislation barring municipal police from crossing over municipal borders to enforce a local ordinance.
Glanville, a Hartford resident and former Major League Baseball player who is an analyst for ESPN, was shoveling his driveway when he was approached by a West Hartford police officer. The police officer had crossed the town line looking for a person shoveling driveways who was peddling his services in violation of West Hartford’s solicitation ban.
A first-person essay by about the encounter was published by The Atlantic in April 2014.
The incident didn’t escalate to an arrest, but, according to Ritter, the description of the man the West Hartford police officer was searching for didn’t match that of Glanville.
Glanville’s wife emailed Ritter immediately after the incident in February 2014 to tell him about it. The subject of the email was “Shoveling While Black.” The incident and his wife’s email, according to Glanville’s essay, mobilized “a diverse swatch of Hartford influentials” who banded together to assess the situation.
Ritter said some will view the legislation as a clarification of state statute, but as a “representative of a diverse city, a diverse neighborhood . . . when we see something wrong, we act.”
He said he felt he had a duty to respond to the incident that took place in his own neighborhood.
“To me this situation called for action by the General Assembly to say we are not going to allow this to happen. We’re going to clarify state statute,” Ritter said.
According to Glanville, the young West Hartford police officer asked him if he was trying to make a few extra bucks shoveling driveways. Glanville explained the driveway he was shoveling was his own.
Glanville testified in March that he doesn’t believe the situation is resolved.
The bill passed 109-38 despite opposition from the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
In written testimony, the association said there already is a process in place for an aggrieved party to take action and file a complaint against a police officer who may have stepped outside their jurisdiction.
“The emotional enactment of legislation in response to an isolated incident is not good policy and does not provide stakeholders the opportunity to explore the many implications of such a change,” the association wrote in its testimony.
Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford, opposed the legislation Tuesday. Verrengia, a retired police officer, said there are times where police follow up on some of the simplest infractions or violations of town ordinances and “come across people who are wanted on a more serious charge.”
“Do I think this bill makes the residents of Connecticut any safer? I’d say absolutely not,” Verrengia said.