Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport

The House unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that “strengthens” the legal framework for what’s considered deadly use of force by a police officer and delays the training for police officers in the new standard.

“We put our police officers in harms way every day and they need clarity with respect to the use of force policy,” Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, said. “But at the same time we also have to recognize and not forget that call for change we have all heard so loudly and continue to hear.” 

The bill modifies the landmark police accountability law passed last July following the death of George Floyd.  

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The bill passed by the House Tuesday changes the effective date to train every police officer in the state. It was moved from next month to Jan. 1, 2022. 

It also updates the standard for use of deadly force. The new language stipulates that officers are justified in the use of deadly force if they have “reasonably determined that there are no available” alternatives and that when feasible, the officer has given warning that they intend to use deadly force.

Rep. Craig Fishbeinn, R-Wallingford, said lawmakers’ job is to create guardrails for the officers to work within to “protect our communities, to protect themselves, but also to recognize the rights of others.”

“While I’m not totally happy with it, I think it does advance the intent of the legislation,” Fishbein said.   

Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan, said he felt the bill was rushed when it was passed during a special session last July and appreciates that the bill was revisited this session, even though Democratic lawmakers had initially been resistant to any changes. 

“When we act in a bipartisan way I think the best legislation comes forward,” O’Dea said. 

The bill passed 146 to 0 and now heads to the Senate. Because of COVID-19 the two chambers have been meeting on separate days to reduce the number of people in the state Capitol.