FLOREN: Police accountability bill did not have in-person public hearing for all to speak

Submitted by Floren Livvy R. Floren, State Representative 149th District Greenwich and Stamford

Medical advice precluded my attending the Special Session of the House of Representatives on July 23-24. However, I watched every minute of the 22-hour marathon either live and on demand on CT-N.

As I predicted, three of the bills on the call received almost unanimous, bipartisan support. These bills were ones I had worked on for many years (absentee ballots) and for at least two sessions in the Insurance and Real Estate Committee (capping the cost of insulin and insurance coverage for telehealth/telemedicine). The votes were 144-2; 142-4; and 145-0, respectively… no small feat.

The fourth bill – HB 6004 Police Accountability – did not meet the same fate. The Judiciary Committee chairs and Ranking Members spent countless hours crafting a draft reform bill that included provisions for transparency, community policing models like those of Greenwich and Stamford, increased cultural and sensitivity training, civilian review boards, and the use of body- and dashboard cameras, among many other viable recommendations.

I applaud and appreciate their efforts which aimed above obstructionist and bellicose behavior and put aside personal political agendas. Real reform does not ride in on either an elephant or a donkey, but it does need to follow a thoughtful and equitable legislative process. This bill did not receive an in-person public hearing where all stakeholders could speak (it only had a ZOOM “listening” airing), and I feel that the decision to pass the bill (86-58) chipped away at good government procedure and practice.

We have in place a Police Accountability Task Force which is tasked with substantive work and duties.

Let’s allow the subject-matter experts the opportunity to recommend future policy changes. I urge the State Senate to vote NO on HB 6004 on July 28.