HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut's governor signed an executive order that pledges to increase diversity within the state police.
The order announced by Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday came in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
Floyd's death brought major demonstrations for racial equality across the nation and in Connecticut.
Police accountability and transparency are the goals in Lamont's order.
For now, it only applies to the Connecticut State Police, not local departments.
Lamont said he demanded diversity in a department that is dominated by white males.
"Eighty percent of our state police are white males. That's changing," Lamont said.
The governor wants to recruit more minorities and more women to be part of the force. On top of that, a community liaison trooper will be assigned to each troop.
Lamont said the executive order prohibits troopers from using chokeholds and not allow them to be bystanders.
There is also a Use of Force Policy that requires:
- Troopers to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.
- Troopers to provide a verbal warning, when possible, before using deadly force.
- Troopers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to deadly force.
- Troopers to intervene to stop another law enforcement officer from using excessive force, and to report any such use to a supervisor in writing.
- Prohibit troopers from shooting at or into moving vehicles unless the occupants of the vehicle pose a deadly threat by means other than the vehicle.
- Include a use-of-force matrix.
- Troopers to report all uses of force, including drawing a firearm on another civilian.
Lamont also said that around 95 percent of the departments in Connecticut have body cameras, but the state has the funds to provide every department with body cameras.
Lamont said a Use of Force website will also be implemented so people can learn more about the incidents happening in their towns based on gender and race. The website has been in the process of being created for the past year.
"I want you to know, town by town, based on gender, based on race, what our police are doing, home that impacts your community and how that's broken down by race and gender," Lamont said. "I just think in the name of transparency, we want you to see what we're doing, why we're doing it, and what those trend lines are. I think you'll see Connecticut is much less likely to use force as just about any other police forces around the country."
Lamont said he worked with state police in crafting the proposals.
However, critics said more needs to be done.
"The primary solution needs to be changing the mindset of the police as they interact with minorities," said Rev. Cornell Lewis.
The American Civil Liberties union of Connecticut wants the legislature to enact more change in a special session.
It said governor's order "does nothing to end police violence or racism. Gov. Lamont has issued an executive order that proposes increasing policing. The people of Connecticut deserve much better than Lamont's order, which amounts to lukewarm heat and no light."
However, Lamont believes the executive order can be a first step that leads to systemic change.
"I want a police force, I want a state police force, I want administration, I want judges, I want district attorneys to represent the amazing diversity of our state," Lamont said.
He said he hopes that by the end of the year, the changes will trickle down to the local level.
When the legislature reconvenes for a special session in a matter of weeks, these proposals could become laws.