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State Senator

Gary Winfield

Representing New Haven & West Haven

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Winfield Advocates for Stronger Police Accountability Laws

Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven), Representative Robyn Porter (D-New Haven), Representative Chris Rosario (D-Bridgeport), ACLU of Connecticut, and community organizers today called for the passage of legislation that would help restore the public’s confidence in law enforcement by establishing meaningful accountability for police officers who use excessive force.

House Bill 6663 aims to increase government transparency and accountability by establishing a deadline of 15 days for out-of-district prosecutors to complete initial investigations into police uses of force and require police departments to place officers who are under investigation for uses of force on unpaid leave. The bill would also update Connecticut state law, which requires out-of-district prosecutors to only investigate deadly police uses of force, to reflect current practice, in which out-of-district prosecutors also investigate when police seriously injure a member of the public.

“People are concerned about the inevitable clash that comes between communities and police. That fire is already burning; we don’t want it to explode. We want to make sure that the community feels safe and that police are able to do their job. In order to do that, we have to do our job and pass this legislation,” Sen. Winfield, Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee said. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘Is everyone in this state protected, no matter what they look like?’ We have passed bills to put more police into communities, we call the community policing, but at the same time we’ve done nothing to increase police accountability. You cannot put police into the community with all the historical realities that we have, with the fear that’s in some of these communities, and not have accountability.”

The press conference Tuesday was held just one week after the shooting of Jayson Negron, 15, who was killed by Bridgeport police Officer James Boulay on May 9. Days later, video footage of the aftermath of the shooting began circulating on social media, which appears to contradict the Bridgeport Police Department’s earlier statements to Jayson Negron’s family that he had been shot in the head, and that he was not alive when police handcuffed him and placed him face down in the street.

“Is a police department really in a rush to complete an investigation in a timely manner when an officer is assigned to paid desk duty while a 15-year-old is lying face down in the streets with his hands cuffed behind his back? The community is outraged,” Rep. Porter said. “We need to heighten police accountability in communities that are being over-policed and under-protected.”

“Jayson Negron’s death was preventable, not inevitable. Jayson Negron died because of an entire system that has failed to hold police accountable to the communities they are supposed to serve. Connecticut’s legislature has the power to change that system. Yet as some legislators spoke out about the need for police reform after yet another fatal shooting, their colleagues let a bill to fix Connecticut’s police complaint system die in committee,” said David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “This failure to act on of one of the most critical justice issues of our time is unconscionable.”

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