HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont said he didn’t want to wait for the legislature to hold a special session to deal with police accountability.
“I wanted to do what we could do right now,” Lamont said in a press briefing Monday in the backyard of the governor’s mansion.
The executive order Lamont signed Monday prohibits the state police from using chokeholds. It also requires the agency to update its manual to require troopers to de-escalate situations before using force. It requires troopers to intervene to stop another law enforcement officer from using excessive force.
The executive order mandates that troopers report all uses of force, including drawing a firearm on a civilian.
“I want that listed in real-time on this portal,” Lamont said. “I want to know whatever the weapon might have been; who that was used on; whatever the use of force was; the type of person that it was used on.”
Regarding de-militarization, the executive order prohibits the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection from purchasing any military-style equipment from the federal government until further notice. And it requires the Connecticut State Police to equip every uniformed trooper with a body camera and every marked vehicle with a dashboard camera.
“Most importantly, police accountability is about trust and good police work doesn’t work without trust,” Lamont said.
Lamont said he wants to have a community liaison in every troop.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said it’s a good jumping off point and his only objection is to the demilitarization issue.
“I don’t think there should be effort to make what they have obsolete,” Fasano said.
Other than that, a lot of the provisions in the executive order are “common sense,” Fasano added.
House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said all of the proposals are reasonable and she doesn’t disagree with any of them, but she doesn’t know enough about the prohibition on the “military and military-style equipment.” She said she also doesn’t know why the governor is mandating equipping state troopers with body cameras when that’s something that was already mandated.
The order, according to Lamont, will require a town-by-town breakdown of use of force by the Connecticut State Police. Lamont said he wants a report on the use of tasers as well.
Lamont’s executive authority only extends to the state police. He said he will work with the legislature to make sure these policies also apply to municipal police departments.
The legislature is expected to address these issues in a special session, which has yet to be scheduled.
Rep. Brandon McGee, chair of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, said he looks forward to coming up with legislation that “really considers the community voices that we hear at the rallies and the protests and not just a policy we’re passing just because we needed to pass something.”
He said lawmakers have to work together on the issue, but if they don’t want to work together, the caucus intends to see that meaningful legislation is passed.
The ACLU of Connecticut said the executive order “does nothing to end police violence or racism.”
“At a time when people across Connecticut and the country are calling for divestment from policing and for meaningful action to end police violence and racism inherent in policing, Lamont has issued an executive order that proposes increasing policing, leaves the door open for future militarization by police, and allows police to continue policing themselves. Internal police policies are enforced by and for police themselves, yet Lamont’s order merely requires the state police to review their internal policies on uses of force,” Melvin Medina, public policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Connecticut, said in a statement.
Medina added: “If Lamont was serious about acting to prioritize Black lives, he would have already used his authority to call the legislature in to special session, divested the JAG grant for more policing to instead go to justice-impacted people, and issued an executive order limiting police interactions by limiting arrests during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has failed or refused to do each of those things.”