HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – A community policing effort is on the table in Hartford, according to the mayor.
At noon on Thursday, Mayor Luke Bronin, City Council President Maly D. Rosado, and members of the Hartford City Council announced the city’s intent to create a team of trained civilians to respond to certain calls for service related to issues like mental illness, emotional distress, trauma, and addiction.
Bronin said he has a goal of building a response team that helps take some of the burden off of law enforcement, provides support to those in need, avoids unnecessary escalation, and, if successful, could save both lives and money in the years ahead.
The new team will respond to non-criminal calls, things like mental health calls, to take that burden off police. Bronin says this is a move to change how police are used.
“We believe that this is a time to commit ourselves to reform across the board,” Bronin said.
“We cannot wait. We have to exercise right now, in the community right now, across this country, across this state is looking for us for producing revolutionary reform in policing,” said State Senator Douglas McCrory.
Bronin's plan would mean $5 million in funding over four years to start this team, including $500,000 in the upcoming budget for planning and start-up costs.
On the state level, lawmakers do plan to go back into special session sometime soon, with policing likely one of the items they'll address.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order that was signed on Monday called for several changes, but only for state police.
If lawmakers want local police departments to follow suit, they have to put that order into law. This includes things like a ban on chokeholds and some other controversial uses of force. Police also would not be allowed to buy surplus military vehicles and must recruit more minorities.
On Thursday, House Republicans issued a statement saying they “are committed to participating in bipartisan talks that directly address excessive force and racial disparities in policing, and to offering reform-focused solutions to help ensure that reprehensible police conduct like the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis never happen in Connecticut.”
The statement doesn't address and specific proposals.
A Quinnipiac University poll shows some partisan divide, at last nationally.
Two thirds of respondents support banning chokeholds, with bipartisan support. But the poll found only 41 percent of people support shifting some funding from police to social services. That includes only 10 percent of Republicans, and only 14 percent support abolishing police.
The Q Poll found only 49 percent of people view police nationwide favorably. But that number jumps to 77 percent when people are asked about their local police department.