Photo by Yehyun Kim, CT Mirror
Submit a public testimony on LCO #3471, An Act Concerning Police Accountability
Although the Listening session for public testimony was held Friday, July 17, 2020, you can still submit public testimony via email through the week of July 20th. In addition to calling your legislators, this is important to do as the testimony is considered by the members of the Judiciary Committee who are drafting and amending the bill.
As ACLU CT has pointed out, policing is a powerful political machine, and police departments and unions from across Connecticut are lobbying against many of the provisions in this bill that we support. Therefore, it’s important we, as activists, submit our own testimonies and encourage those who care about defunding the police and abolition to submit their own testimonies as well.
Directions for submitting a public testimony on LCO#3471
Email written testimony in Word or PDF format to JUDtestimony@cga.ct.gov with the subject line “Testimony on Draft LCO #3471.”
Page limit: 5 pages single spaced
Format the testimony as a letter addressed to “Senator Winfield, Representative Stafstrom, Ranking Members Kissel and Rebimbas, and distinguished members of the Judiciary Committee.”
*Please note that your testimony will be public record and indexed by internet search engines.*
Not sure what to write?
Here are some guiding information points and ideas to help you craft your testimony. Make it as long or short as you want, and personalize it to what you find to be important.
In your testimony, you can open with…
…how you support legislation that will bring greater accountability to police, especially those who racially profile, brutalize, and murder civilians. However, you also want to see the state work to divest from policing so that it can reinvest in our communities—by re-funding education, health care (including mental health services), affordable housing, and other important social services and public goods. The bill, as proposed, is a start, but needs amendments before you’d consider supporting it.
…a story about racist policing or police brutality you have experienced, or that has happened in your community, and why police accountability and divesting from policing is important to you.
In your testimony, you can write about…
…how in Sections 1-4 & 15, the current language grants the police the authority to police themselves in the certification and decertification process. This language should be amended to create an independent body (that does not have a conflict of interest) to be in charge of this.
…how in Sections 33-35, the current language doesn’t go far enough. We don’t just need a new inspector general position to investigate police use of force and DOC custodial deaths, we need an independent prosecutor!
…how there’s substantial evidence showing that implicit bias training does not reduce police brutality or significantly change police behavior. Therefore, mandatory implicit bias training should not be included in this bill.
…how in Section 18, the current language has police departments evaluating whether social workers would be useful or not to replace them for some work. Because police have a conflict of interest in making this call, the language should be amended so that an independent body determines this.
…remind your lawmakers that body-worn cameras do not/cannot reduce police violence and increase police accountability UNLESS they are accompanied by adequate policies that provide REAL accountability for police. Without proper policies in place, these devices can easily transform into tools of unnecessary surveillance on communities. You can also mention that:
“One 2016 study found that 92.6 percent of prosecutors’ offices nationally in jurisdictions where police wear body cameras have used that footage as evidence in cases against private citizens, while just 8.3 percent have used it to prosecute police officers” (Norwood 2020).
…how Sections 8, 9, 12, 17, 21, 23, 22, 30, 36, 27, 40, 41 are great first steps toward greater police accountability, and that you support these sections without major changes. Section 41 is especially important, because it limits qualified immunity for police. To read these sections yourself, you can access the full text of the bill online (LCO No. 3471-An Act Concerning Police Accountability). You can also read ACLU CT’s testimony, which provides an excellent breakdown of the good and not so good parts of his bill]
You can close by discussing:
…how we need to move away from a carceral and punitive society. Much of the problems with policing lie with policing itself, even a “reformed” version. That’s because policing in America has always been about protecting private property (which at one point applied to enslaved peoples) rather than about protecting communities. We need to move away from policing and work toward a constructive orientation to public safety, by divesting from policing and reinvesting those resources in ways that make our communities healthy and strong (e.g. in education, health and mental health care, affordable housing, and reliable public transit, all rooted in racial and environmental justice).
“ACLU-CT Testimony Regarding LCO No. 3471, An Act Concerning Police Accountability.” 2020. ACLU of Connecticut. July 16, 2020. https://www.acluct.org/en/news/aclu-ct-testimony-regarding-lco-no-3471-act-concerning-police-accountability.
“Police Body Cameras.” 2020. American Civil Liberties Union. https://www.aclu.org/issues/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/police-body-cameras.
“Body-Worn Cameras.” 2017. Electronic Frontier Foundation. October 18, 2017. https://www.eff.org/pages/body-worn-cameras.
Norwood, Candice. 2020. “Body Cameras Are Seen as Key to Police Reform. But Do They Increase Accountability?” PBS NewsHour. June 25, 2020. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/body-cameras-are-seen-as-key-to-police-reform-but-do-they-increase-accountability.