GROUP LETTER: Fazio makes false claims about police accountability bill

August 10, 2021

To the Editor,

It should concern voters, regardless of political affiliation, when candidates show a blatant disregard for the truth. That’s the case with Ryan Fazio, the Republican candidate running for State Senate in the Aug 17 special election.

Fazio has demonized the police accountability bill that passed last summer in the wake of the George Floyd murder, making patently false claims about its impact and the process that led to its passage. He has committed to repeal the law if elected.

At a candidate debate last week, Fazio recalled his prediction last year that the bill would lead to a “massive precipitation of crime and violence” and then pointed to the sharp increase in gun homicide in Connecticut during the pandemic as proof of his assertion. There’s just one inconvenient truth for Fazio: the accountability provisions he calls “awful” don’t go into effect until 2022.

Fazio characterizes the bill as being “swept into law in the middle of the night,” which is another fabrication of his. The bill passed after weeks of debate, public listening sessions and some 60 hours of discussion among legislative leaders. Hundreds of conversations were held between proponents of the bill and representatives of law enforcement. Both State Representative Stephen Meskers, and former Senator Alex Kasser, Greenwich Democrats who voted for the bill, spoke directly with rank and file members of the Greenwich Police Department and its leadership.

Fazio has been endorsed by the Silver Shield Association, the Greenwich police union whose leadership continues to stand in opposition to the bill, calling those who advocate for police reform an “out-of-control nationwide anti-police movement.”

People who support police reform are not “anti-police.” The legislation was designed to improve policing practices to better respect the sanctity of human life and the dignity that all individuals deserve.  As Rev. Thomas Nins, the Greenwich police chaplain, so poignantly ​expressed​ ​at the Black Lives Matter rally at Town Hall last summer, “I stand for a community that is tired of being stood upon.” The law holds accountable police who demonstrate a willful disregard for these norms.

We have enormous respect for the Greenwich police officers who put their lives at risk every day to protect our community. But wanting greater accountability and transparency to ensure equitable policing is not the attack on law enforcement that Fazio claims.

Voters who want to be represented by a state senator who truly cares about public safety and reducing gun violence should vote for Alexis Gevanter. Unlike the misleading rhetoric coming from her opponent, Gevanter walks the talk. She was the Connecticut State Leader of Moms Demand Action, mobilizing advocates across the state to lobby for stronger laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. She has also lobbied to increase funding for evidence-informed, community-based violence prevention programs, including Project Longevity, a group violence intervention program run by police departments in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.

On the strength of her past work, and stated policy positions, Gevanter is endorsed by CT Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety. Her opponent refuses to share where he stands on strong gun laws and other measures designed to reduce gun violence; the issue is not addressed on his campaign website.

Nothing about the police accountability law should be controversial to anyone who wants to be part of a civil society. It ​requires​ police officers to intervene when a colleague is using excessive illegal force, bans potentially fatal chokeholds in most circumstances and clarifies that deadly force can be used only when all reasonable alternatives are exhausted. It creates uniform police training, including on implicit bias. The act establishes an independent office to investigate deaths caused by police. It empowers the Police Officers Training and Standards Council to set policies on use of force and to decertify officers when in the interest of public safety.

Police officers who respect human rights and follow the law have no reason for concern. The​ ​act​ requires municipalities to indemnify police officers from financial exposure, except when a court determines an officer deprived a person of his constitutional rights by committing a “malicious, wanton or willful act.”

Much is at stake in this election. Cast your vote for Alexis Gevanter, by absentee ballot or in person on August 17. You can get details on how to vote here.

Jonathan Perloe, Cos Cob

Joined by these Greenwich voters:

Betsy Keller, Cos Cob

Karen Royce, Greenwich

Sandra Soule, Riverside

Jay Wilson, Cos Cob

Robert Brady, Riverside

Susan Rattray, Cos Cob

Lori Jackson, Old Greenwich 

Janet Murphey, Old Greenwich 

Andrea Levine, Greenwich 

Jean Moore, Greenwich 

Lucy Krasnor, Riverside

Rommel Nobay, Cos Cob

Danielle  Rudolph , Cos Cob

Stephanie  D’Alton Barrett, Riverside 

Courtney Weil, Cos Cob

Anna Mukerjee, Old Greenwich

Nicole Heath, Greenwich 

Shelley Meltzer, Greenwich

Dina Lunder, Greenwich

Monica Prihoda, Old Greenwich

Susan Rudolph, Greenwich

Melissa Devaney, Greenwich

Lynne Rohrer, Greenwich

Marianne Weill, Greenwich 

Lorelei  O’Hagan, Cos Cob

Gerald Pollack, Old Greenwich

Jen Barro, Greenwich

Hector Arzeno, Greenwich

Dan Edelstein, Old Greenwich

Emily Bierman, Greenwich

Judd Cohen, Greenwich 

Mary Ellen Markowitz, Cos Cob

Joan Thakor, Greenwich

Anne Wichman, Riverside 

Marianne Schorer, Greenwich

Clifford Schorer, Greenwich

Deborah Michals, Riverside

Clifford Schorer, Greenwich

David Snyder, Old Greenwich

John Cooper, Greenwich

Mark Goldstein, Greenwich

Linda Waterbury, Greenwich

Lucy von Brachel, Greenwich

Joseph Smith, Riverside

Elizabeth Perry, Greenwich

Janet  McMahon, Cos Cob

Caryn Rosenbaum, Cos Cob

Scott Kalb, Greenwich

Natalie Jarnstedt, Greenwich

Hale McSharry, Riverside

Andrew Winston, Old Greenwich

Phyllis Alexander, Greenwich

Mareta Hamre, Greenwich

The deadline to submit letters to the editor for candidates in the Aug 17 special election for State Senate 36th district was Aug 10, 2021