HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - After hours of heated debate, the state Senate passed a controversial police reform bill early Wednesday morning.
Even after the debate ended and the bill was passed, senators on both sides of the aisle continued to disagree about how the legislation would impact police in our state.
Supporters said it will help the state get rid of bad cops.
"Once people look at the bill, I don’t think there is really anything that is that threatening in the content except to officers who are bad officers," said Senate majority leader Martin Looney.
Gov. Ned Lamont has said in the past that he supports the legislation.
Critics, however, said it will only put a target on the back of all police officers.
"You’re going to see police not be proactive, but reactive," said Sen. Len Fasano, minority leader. "In other words, if they see something that they think may be an issue, they are going to be reluctant to intercede, because they are going to get sued."
The bill would make it easier for citizens to sue individual officers in state court, but they would only be held financially liable if they knowingly broke the law. Though, the burden can be shifted to individual towns and cities.
While the bill doesn’t get rid of qualified immunity, it creates a more stringent review process, and decertifies rogue officers.
Supporters say it sets up a process, and those officers who are found guilty will be financially liable.
Many police officers said that the bill would make their jobs even more difficult. They also said it's making good cops want to leave the profession.
“We believe in transparency. We also believe in protecting police officers and their right and right to due process, and if people make unsubstantiated complaints, we don’t feel they should be put out into the public," said State Police Union President and Trooper John Castiline.
The state House of Representatives passed the measure last week.
The bill passed along party lines, with only one Democrat voting no.
Tuesday, the Senate did pass three other bills including:
- Expanded use of absentee ballots for Nov. 3
- Expanded telemedicine opportunities
- Cap on insulin
- Caps cost at $25 month
- $25 for non insulin drugs per month
- $100 for supplies per month
On Wednesday, Gov. Lamont said he was preparing to start signing the bills as early as Thursday.
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