HARTFORD, CT — The Police Accountability and Transparency Task Force released its priorities and recommendations document Wednesday, two days after Gov. Ned Lamont asked the group to fast-track its work.
The 20 preliminary recommendations, including a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints, will be discussed next Tuesday – a full week before the group was originally scheduled to meet. The task force, which before this week had only met once in January, is capitalizing on a new sense of urgency created by the death of George Floyd as he was being taken into custody for a minor offense in Minneapolis on May 25.
The task force was created as part of a 2019 police accountability law that provided more transparency by requiring the release of body- and dash-camera videos and prohibited officers from stepping in front of vehicles after two highly publicized police-involved shooting deaths within days of each other.
The group felt a sense of urgency to get the priorities and recommendations on paper as a framework, said task force member Ken Barone, Project Manager for Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy.
The document was based on comments from task force members who were asked during a two-and-a-half hour meeting Monday to provide what police accountability issues they felt were the most important to address.
“I can’t emphasize enough what it was like being in that situation and seeing it live,” said task force Chair Daryl McGraw on Monday about the video of a Minneapolis officer suffocating Floyd with a knee to his neck for nine minutes as other officers watched.
As part of the priorities issued Wednesday, the task force is recommending a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints and making it mandatory that officers have to report and intervene if they see a co-worker engaged in misconduct.
Body cameras for all officers would also be mandatory, according to the recommendations and the internal affairs process would be reformed to include community involvement.
The task force would seek to hold regional listening sessions and conduct community surveys to gather public input.
The group further called for the establishment of an independent body to investigate incidents in which police use deadly or excessive force, and it wants the state to conduct a “patterns and practice” investigation when a police department is accused of civil rights violations.
Other priorities include changing the culture of policing to a guardian model rather than a warrior model, ensuring that each officer commits to 500 hours of community engagement activities in urban centers before receiving certification and providing early intervention for officers through assistance, correction and discipline.
The task force also wants to examine the role of labor organizations and agreements that prevent police administrators from “easily removing unfit officers,” and also to evaluate the effectiveness of less-than-lethal force tools.
Barone said the group is expected to vote on the recommendations Tuesday, June 16, and then to discuss how to organize the work into subcommittees.