CHAIRMEN: Senator Hartley
SENATORS: Cassano, Daily, Guglielmo, Witkos
REPRESENTATIVES: Adinolfi, Bacchiochi, Clemons, Davis, Esposito, Gonzalez, Greene, Jutila, Mikutel, Nicastro, Orange, Robles, Rovero, Roy, Yaccarino
REP. DARGAN: Good everyone. We're going to try to get this public hearing started since we're four minutes late and Public Safety, we always like to be on time. Just a couple of ground rules. There are a number of other public hearings going on in here today, so you -- you might see Legislators come in and out. It's not that they're not interested, it's just that they have other responsibilities going on. So please just understand that.
We try to stay to a three-minute time frame, so if you do have written testimony, we have it in front of us. And if it's that long, just try to summarize your comments and then members of the committee might have questions for the people that are here. So we appreciate you taking time away from your busy schedules to come testify here today.
So usually what we do is the first hour is for Legislators, agency heads, and municipal officials. And within that one hour, we will also try to stay within that three-minute timeframe. And -- and after that first hour, we'll go to public comment. And if there's still people left in that first hour of Legislators, agency heads, and municipal officials, we'll just rotate that list. So with that said, we're going to get things rolling here.
And the first presenters on the state agency head is from the Chief State's Attorney's Office. So if they're here, if they would just like to come forward.
STATE'S ATTORNEY STEPHEN J. SEDENSKY, III: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. My name is Stephen Sedensky, I'm the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury, and I'm here to speak with regard to, excuse me, House Bill 5093 and Senate Bill 63.
House Bill 5093 is AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXTRADITION OF FUGITIVES. I -- I put this bill before the Division of Criminal Justice based on a problem that I have had in the Danbury Judicial District with regard to extradition of fugitives. If I make a decision not to extradite someone, let's just say someone is charged with a D felony, which is the lowest felony that is available, and then because of the financial cost of bringing that person back from whatever state they happen to be in, the bondsman in that situation, if I refuse to extradite will be let off the bond even though it was their responsibility to ensure that that person appear in court. All right.
So -- so basically if I make a financial decision that it is not worth the state's money, because it may be exorbitant to bring a person back from California on a larceny in the third degree, the bondsman whose responsibility it was to bring that person back, is let off the hook. What this bill would do is put the responsibility for transferring and paying for the -- the travel, paying for the extradition of the absconding defendant on the bondsman whose responsibility it was to ensure their appearance in court.
The bill -- and so what would happen is if they put the money up front to bring the person back and the prosecutor, state's attorney, still declines to extradite, then they would be let off the bond. The bill as I proposed it would have them put the money up front. What is in the current bill is an assurance from the bondsman that they will pay the cost and reimburse the Division of Criminal Justice for extradition.
We spend a lot of time chasing bondsman to make good on their bonds in terms of suing them, and they may have to compromise bonds later on in terms of an agreement. I would recommend to the committee that my original language which is -- which is part of the written testimony be reinstated so that not -- not that we just get an assurance that they will pay, but they have to put the money up front. The Division of Criminal Justice spent about $171,000 last year in expenses in returning people from other states. That cost on people who failed to appear should really be with the bondsman and not with the taxpayers of the state of Connecticut.
With regard to Senate Bill No. 63, I will turn that over to State's Attorney Peter McShane.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Hi, good afternoon. I'm Pete McShane, I'm with the State's Attorney's Office in -- in Middletown. I apologize for being late, but a lot of traffic outside the building. Then when I got inside the building, there's even more traffic. I -- I am in support of S.B. No. 63. Last year I came and -- and testified before this group with regards to voting on the influence and -- and the necessity to, from my standpoint, to have the test outside the two-hour limit admissible in court. I -- I did not -- I was successful with the voting, but not with the -- with the driving cases. And so I'm back this year trying again for the driving case, and I'll be back every year because I think it's that important.
We do have cases in which for one reason or another, and it's never to the fault of the police officer's, it's usually because there's an accident investigation going on, that the blood alcohol test comes after the two-hour limit. As a result, we don't -- we're not allowed to get those tests admitted into court, and -- and that's a crime. That's wrong because people are getting away with operating under the influence merely because of a technicality.
What this bill, S.B. 63, seeks is -- is that we do get it in. However -- when I say we, I mean the State's Attorney's Office does get it in, but -- but we'll have to have somebody testify, a toxicologist testify as to the validity of those tests because they were taken so long after the accident.
I'll give you an example. When I was down in New London, we had a case where three couples had gone to the casino, they were on their way back from the casino, they actually won some money, they were rear-ended by a drunk driver. When the police arrived at the scene, there were -- there were two bodies in the road, there was money strewn about the road, and the only one that was helpful, the only one that could help that what was going on was the person that was under the influence.
Police recognized they had a problem, but now they're in a remote road in North Stonington, they have to get ambulance crews there, they have to get -- get the -- the people that are hurt attended to immediately. And eventually, once that's all cleaned up, they then can turn their attention to the person who is under the influence and work on that. That test was taken 2 hours and 16 minutes after operation. The judge ruled it inadmissible, we couldn't get it in.
What -- what I'm asking for and what S.B. 63 is asking for is -- is that these tests be allowed in situations like this. It's -- it's a very small number of cases, but it's -- but it's a very significant amount of cases in the sense that these are the ones that involve injuries, these are the ones that involve people's lives. And -- and like I said, you're going to see me every year if this doesn't get through, so you might as well get rid of it now. But do you have any questions for me?
REP. DARGAN: Thank you for your testimony.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Thank you.
REP. DAVIS: Thank you very much for coming here today for coming here today. On S.B. 63, is there a specific reason why it's at a two-hour limit right now? Is there a scientific reason why you should only be to test for the blood alcohol levels within two hours?
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: I'll -- I'll start with this. My history, I -- historically I could tell you, I've -- I've been doing this for 24 years. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, whenever we had an operating under the influence case, we would have to have a toxicologist from the state come in and extrapolate back. If a test reading was at 0.15 and the next one was at 0.13, the toxicologist could say at the time of operation, the defendant was at a 0.17.
To save the state time and money and the toxicologist from coming in on all DUI cases and testifying, they said, well, if we have it within a two-hour period, it's presumed that that person is above 0.08, so we don't have to do that. So -- so that's why we did it. We did it to make it easier, but now what's happening is it's excluding so many cases that we've got to sit back and -- and -- we'll bring in a toxicologist, toxicologist will be happy to testify, but -- but that's why. Historically it was done just to save the toxicologist time, money, and effort.
REP. DAVIS: So what would be the difference that if you had the ability to process the alcohol within that two-hour period and you -- and you were at a 0.1 instead of a 0.08, which is the limit, what would be the difference between them taking it at hour -- 1 hour and 30 minutes compared to them taking it 2 hours and 30 minutes? You know, either way you're still under the legal limit, I guess, if you had the ability to process it, but you may have been drunk when it happened.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Right. And -- and all it is is we don't, and we meaning State's Attorney's Office, will not have a presumption working in our favor that the person was over 0.08, so we'll have to go with a -- with a toxicologist to testify. So that -- that's the only difference that I can see.
REP. DAVIS: Okay.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Thank you, Representative Davis.
REP. DAVIS: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Representative.
REP. YACCARINO: Hi, thank you for your testimony.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: No, thank you.
REP. YACCARINO: Who -- who would actually draw the blood on the scene? You'd have to draw it on the scene I would think if you wanted to do it within a two-hour frame, is that correct?
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Yes. Yes, well -- it -- it could also be a breath or urine test. When I'm saying blood, it's usually an accident case, but -- but we do have an occasional urine test or a breath test. But normally it's done by hospital personnel in the -- in the normal course of their business. Many times it's for a trauma profile, many times it's for them just to determine, you know, what's up with this person when they were driving so they can administer whatever care they need.
REP. YACCARINO: All right. I just was curious because you would think that you would need a paramedic or somebody to either draw the blood. Now currently you do have the urine or the breathing test.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Yep. And -- and, you know, if it is blood, it's done by a paramedic, an EMT 2, or somebody recognized within the statute.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Thank you.
A VOICE: Thank you very much.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions from committee members? Thank you very much for your testimony.
STATE'S ATTORNEY PETER A. MCSHANE: Thank you very much.
REP. DARGAN: The next presenter is Colonel Dan Stebbins from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
DANNY STEBBINS: Good morning, Representative Dargan, Co-Chair, and distinguished members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. It's my pleasure to give testimony today on Senate Bill 32, AN ACT CONCERNING STATE POLICE STAFFING. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection support this bill. The Connecticut State Police recognize that personnel staffing is and must remain a fluid matter. Personnel needs may arise and they may decrease over time.
Our agency goal is regardless of the fiscal climate, will always be to have adequate staffing in place to protect public safety and protect our department employees. In order to accomplish this aim, certain staffing levels must be maintained but that staffing is not, and cannot, be tied to a preset, static number as the current law calls for.
Agency staffing needs and changes to agency staffing levels may, in some cases, be predictable more than two years out. An example that falls into this category would include retirement eligibility for larger training -- training classes. Less predictable, however, are the staffing impacts of a myriad of issues such as potential acts of terrorism, issues related to emergency management and homeland security, critical infrastructure concerns, rapid business growth, expanded agency responsibilities, and sudden and unexpected spurts in gang violence, weapons and narcotics violence.
History gives us examples of significant changes in staffing needs. Back in the early '80s we had three police departments in Connecticut that voted their departments out -- three towns, Danielson, Jewett City, and Stafford. Those three towns when they voted out their police departments, we needed to respond and pick up where they left off. And we used a considerable amount of assets that had been used elsewhere.
The opening and subsequent expansion of Connecticut's casinos which necessitated the assignment of approximately 30 troopers that previously fulfilled other law enforcement roles; and the law enforcement follow-up following September 11, 2001, which required the expansion of Troop W by 20 troopers, and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security another 13 agency members. All these individuals, again, had previously been assigned elsewhere.
The ability to report to the General Assembly every-other year on staffing needs is necessary to perform state police operations. It is better policy for public safety planning than setting a static number in statute.
In closing, please note that Commissioner Bradford and I continue to search for cost savings and efficiencies wherever possible. Our efforts to regionalize our dispatching function, which will achieve enormous economies of scale, are continuing and enjoying -- and enjoying preliminary success. The merger of our Troop H Hartford and Troop W Bradley Airport will become effective as of March 9th, which in turn allows us significant personnel redeployment.
We have developed -- we have redeployed 16 administrative troopers back to field operations. The agency has civilianized 13 job classifications and is continuing to aggressively civilianize our operations wherever possible to ensure that hazardous duty work is performed by hazardous duty personnel. The necessary level of staffing to maintain public safety is paramount to all staffing decisions. Thank you for your time and the opportunity to offer these thoughts for your consideration.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Colonel. Questions from committee members? Questions? I have numerous ones, I guess. I was just given, any other members could go first.
REP. MIKUTEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for testifying here today. You know, nobody wants to jeopardize public safety, of course, and -- and that's not the intent of anyone, but it -- there doesn't seem to be a correlation between the number of police and the -- and the rate of crime. The rate of crime has dropped considerably in the last number of years, even in this state.
So if there was a positive correlation between the number of police and the -- and the amount of violent crime, then I -- then I would certainly support a -- a minimum staffing level. But -- I'm not asking you this, but I -- I just don't seem to see the connection between having a certain number of police and -- and the -- and the rate -- crime rate.
REP. DARGAN: Representative Rovero.
REP. ROVERO: I have one question. And we all want as much protection as possible, but when a town or city decides to do away with their local police departments, is it mandatory or is there a law that says the state police have to take over? And I know we all want to prevent crime, but I mean is there a law that says you have to take over?
DANNY STEBBINS: That's correct. If they don't have a charter that recognizes the police department, they are considered to be in state police jurisdiction.
REP. ROVERO: Okay. Thank you very much.
REP. DARGAN: Senator Guglielmo.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, Colonel.
DANNY STEBBINS: Good morning, Senator.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Just a -- I -- I think, you know, you're from our area, so I think you know the history of this minimum staffing. And it's kind of something that was important to me because the event in Chaplin was what -- Chaplin, Connecticut, was what caused the legislation to move on the issue. I think -- I think that those facts are right. And it was a horrific case, as you remember.
And there was a woman in her home who was bludgeoned to death by her husband and got on the 9-1-1 call and took I think 24 minutes for the trooper to get there. No fault of the trooper, just that he was on the other end of his area he was covering, and it took him that long to get back. And the 9-1-1 call is chilling. But -- so that was the history of it, that's how -- that's how we got to the 1,248. But I -- I wonder does the Department of Public Safety support doing the -- reducing the minimum without a study or are you planning on a study that, you know, that we would look at?
DANNY STEBBINS: We would provide a study to you every two years. We're mandated by our (inaudible) standards to do it every three years. But we have no problem at all moving that up and doing it every other year. The study will include things that we have done to return people that are receiving a hazardous duty pension to hazardous duty work, as I mentioned earlier.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Okay.
DANNY STEBBINS: We're -- we're civilianizing, we're moving a lot of the troopers that for whatever reason over history have moved into slots where they're not doing hazardous work, we're putting them back on the road.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Does the Department of Public Safety have a -- a number that you guys are looking at right now? If it's not 1,248, is it 1,150, you know, is there any number that you settled in on yet?
COLONEL DANNY STEBBINS: No, I would prefer not to. And the reason being is we need these staffing to obviously, you know, keep the public safety and to back ourselves up on calls and others as we always do. The issue becomes very fluid with the number. For example, if we have two large classes, 100-man classes, their anniversary comes up on the same year, you have a potential for downsizing to have through attrition. So what we want to be able to do is to go forward before that and say we need a class, we need X number of bodies before that happens.
If we were to look back now, we have a lot of people that are unable to come to work because of either being injured or they're currently serving their country overseas. So I have a lot of people on staff, but a lot of them aren't coming to work. If we were doing this two years ago, we would have given you a study that say, hey, we predict we're going to be down here, and then, therefore, short on people and spending overtime. That's where we're at.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Mr. Chairman if I could, I have a couple of --
REP. DARGAN: Okay.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: If there's no minimum mandate, then how -- how would we establish the number of troopers that were needed in Connecticut? What -- what would be the criteria to do that?
DANNY STEBBINS: Each troop has a minimum staffing level as far as what their patrols are required to have on the road. We have a lot of contracts for resident troopers, it exceeds 100. So we need to fill all of those plus we need to stay vigilant when it comes to our criminal investigative side. The major crime units, as you know, they work with us, but they assist the local PDs probably more than they do our own cases, and the same thing with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Our task force operations, we want to continue to staff those so that we can meet the needs of the federal agencies that work with us here in the state.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Okay. Would the department consider as an alternative a study to see what the level would be and say if we'd push this off to 2013-2014, is that something that would even be considered?
DANNY STEBBINS: We -- we would consider that, absolutely.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Okay. I just have one more question. I understood, but I'm not sure, there was a study done by the Department of Emergency Services about this issue? I don't -- that's what I've heard, I don't know if that's correct?
DANNY STEBBINS: The only thing that we were doing is collecting the numbers of what we have, where our needs are, and then how many people we needed to fill those holes. And that's where you came up with the -- or we came up with the civilianization that we're doing. And we redeployed a lot of people that were not actively on patrols back onto patrol.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thank you very much, Colonel. I appreciate it.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Colonel, in 1998 when we did that number, 1,248, I was one of the co-sponsors along with some other members of the committee. I went back just to 1961, I could've went back a lot further, but the mandate from the state's statute changed in '61, '65, '67, 1969, 1972. In 1973, we took that number out, similar to what's being proposed before us here today. And also with the understanding that I think it's the only state agency that has a mandate with a number in it out of all the state employees.
But also with the understanding, in the 22 years that I've been up here, we put numerous mandates on the Department of Public Safety over the years, and, one, we might've not adequately funded that agency whether it be a Republican administration and/or a Democratic administration. And I was one that always fought to get additional trooper classes from prior Republican administrations that were not funded.
And also with the understanding when we were at that number or close to it or over that number one time, I think, since we've had this number, and underneath Governor Rell, presently we're at, I don't know, personnel around 1,080 or so. It's -- it's frustrating but people have to understand that in order for us to get good personnel, that process takes time from the initial application process to the time that somebody actually becomes a trooper could be anywhere from a year and-a-half.
And also with that understanding within that trooper class, usually there's a ten percent deficiency of people leaving because it's -- they're not up to it or they decide on other career paths. So trying to frame that discussion, and not to get into a philosophical difference between the administration and the unions, I was just wondering if you have any suggestions for us as Legislators to better serve the the Department of Public Safety, and law enforcement that are -- that are out there on the roads 24/7?
DANNY STEBBINS: Well, you are exactly correct in everything that you've said. I think you've had a good recall on how things were, and where our numbers were at the time, and specifically on the years. For those 25 years, approximately 25 years from '73 to '98, we didn't have a mandated number.
If you remember, we went through some pretty tough times with the budget in the early '90s. We were laying off and we had a lot of other constraints put on us budgetary wise. When the economy changed, obviously we were able to do a lot more over the years. And I don't think anybody in this room can prevent that from happening again. So we do need to be flexible in some way.
As far as the two year coming forward and presenting to you what our requests are, what our needs are, where we see us going in the next year as far as retirements or attrition, et cetera, I think that's a good way of when we do come in is to -- is to, which I'm sure you will do, is to listen to us. Because I think we have a very good grasp as to what our -- what's being put on us for our workload.
You know, we have a huge bucket of work across the state, and there are times when it definitely changes. There's times when our functions seem to be going pretty well, but yet something will fall apart at the city levels like it did in the '90s with gangs. We had an awful lot of people moving -- working in the cities because of their gang problem. At the same time, we had laid off that year. So we had some pretty tough times there.
And it wasn't until the Governor at the time heard the need that we got the people and we brought everybody back and we went back on track. So it -- it comes down to being able to do what you can with the money. And if we were, with the budget, if we are bringing in proposals, we can wait then for you, we can tell you what is critical, what is optimal, what is a minimal number as far as us to provide patrol covers.
We used to have statutory mandates on our resident trooper program, for example. They started out with, you know, 20s, went up into the 40s, 50s, 60s, and then finally they just lifted the cap because they didn't want to deny towns that wanted to take advantage of that program. It's those kinds of things we could bring in to show you what our -- what's -- what our requests are for services. We have a lot of requests now that we don't meet. But at the same time other agencies have their hands tied financially and are doing the same thing, they're cutting back.
REP. DARGAN: Just one follow up, I mean not that politics never enters the equation in this building, that 1,248 number has recently come up in a court case. And it's pretty bad when the judge quotes me on the debate of 1998. So I either make the big time or I -- I don't know what's happened to our state when the judge quotes me on that.
And is there any compromise that you think that we might be able to come to? And one suggestion that I have is to, us here, put monies where our mouth is and put additional trooper classes in place. Because I think that 1,080 is -- is well below that 1,248, and we could argue about that number of 1,248. And to move that study up to this year and not wait another year, and depending on what the administration thinks, put off that number of 1,248 for another year until we really analyze it better and -- and keep the politics out of what happened and what's still going on with that court case.
DANNY STEBBINS: I could tell you that we definitely need the class of 80 that has been budgeted for this year. If we don't have that class come out now, we're still in the preparation stages of that class, let's say we get them in in late May, June, July, whenever they finally kick off and we'll have them back out by the end of the year. During this coming time, we're going to have another class reach its 20th anniversary. So we could conceivable use up all those positions.
Let's say we get 65 out of the class, so we could be right back in the same position we are now. And we'll provide you all of that so that you'll have a good grasp on what we are filling. And hopefully right after that, we'll have another class. If not, we'll be in difficult times. It would be difficult for us to go back to what we're doing now, the civilianization, the redeployment because I won't have those people in those positions to draw upon.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much, Colonel. And just to be brief, I'll -- my Co-Chair, Senator Hartley, has a question or two.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Good morning, Colonel. Thank you so much for being with us. And there will be much discussion I think as we go forward trying to all come to a common ground. I just want to mention the fact that this is a very difficult issue, and clearly there is merit on both sides. I don't believe that the statute ought to be laden with details about individual agencies running their operations.
But on the other hand, we are talking public safety of the state of Connecticut. So I -- I think that we all just need to come together to a common place for the greater good of the taxpayers and the citizens of the state of Connecticut.
Having said that, I look forward to working with you on this. I would like to reference the recent national highway study report which identified the state of Connecticut in the dubious position of being the second highest, if I recall, with regard to highway fatalities. And I'm wondering what the department is doing in response to that, if you want to comment?
DANNY STEBBINS: Well, you have me at a disadvantage as far as that study goes. I haven't seen that one. And we continue with our traffic enforcement units, though -- though their numbers are down because we had to, again, we had to move people into answering the emergency calls as compared to strictly doing traffic enforcement on the highway. So we have had to adjust our numbers. We have other mandates put upon us, as was mentioned earlier, to continue to work with the weights and measures, the trucks, so we've had to move people into that arena also.
We are continuing to work with our road patrols out of our highway troops. Again their focus is strictly on the highways, the interstates. And again at the troops, the rural patrols take the rural roads. We are not cutting back on our minimum staffing in any of those troops. Whether it takes, like I said, moving people or overtime, we continue to staff those. I guess I'd have to know more about the study in order to address the --
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yeah, I'm -- I'm wondering, you know, how we catapulted to the top five and, in fact, the second, and what's different now than wasn't before? And -- and then you -- you did reference the weights and measures, I was interested, having made that change last session with regard to the MOU with DMV, if you would just give me your read on how that's playing on.
DANNY STEBBINS: Well, they continue to function as directed. We -- we work very well with Commissioner Currey and Deputy Commissioner Rio. It's a little different than what we were doing in the past administratively, but as far as the job day-to-day goes, the teams are still, you know, weighing trucks and issuing summonses and -- and red lighting vehicles, et cetera. I don't think the public sees much of a change at all with that.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And have you tracked the numbers in comparison to the previous model and what we're doing with now in terms of citations, summons?
DANNY STEBBINS: Those are being tracked, but I don't have those with me today.
SENATOR HARTLEY: I -- I'd be very interested if you could perhaps give us a summary of those, a comparative summary.
DANNY STEBBINS: We can do that.
SENATOR HARTLEY: That would be great. I -- I also recall reading about a practice that was going on in the lab whereby we were having folks stacking their hours so that they would then I guess have windows of time where they actually left and were out testifying as experts in other areas. Could you talk to us about that and tell us what, in fact, the department is doing about that?
DANNY STEBBINS: Senator, I -- I really can't, and the reason I say that is that's another division. I'm the Division of State Police primarily. That's a division within Public Safety. I would be remiss to speak about their unit without having first-hand knowledge. I know they've had a committee that's been working with them for the last year, and they would know better than I.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Right church, wrong pew?
DANNY STEBBINS: Something like that.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Okay. We'll -- we'll find the right person. Okay. Thank you very much for being with us, Colonel Stebbins.
REP. DARGAN: Representative Orange.
REP. ORANGE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and to our Senate Co-Chair. There -- there always seems to be police officers when we don't want to see them. But when we see something going on or whatever where there should be one, there's never one around, law of average. Good morning, Colonel, how are you?
DANNY STEBBINS: Good morning, Representative Orange. I'm doing fine.
REP. ORANGE: Good. Glad to hear it. I know that you and I have conversed in Appropriations Subcommittee over this matter as well as staffing level in the troop. And I think that back in 1998 when we did this 1,248, it was basically a number given to us at that time to -- it was a number given to us at that time to say this is the amount of troopers that we need, sworn personnel, to cover everything that we have to offer the state of Connecticut as the public safety department. And that number actually could be higher right now, it could be lower --
DANNY STEBBINS: That's correct. You're correct --
REP. ORANGE: Right, we don't really know without looking into it. I would say that if we studied this and we all were in agreement on this and did this at a future date, that would be fine. But until we do, I think that we should keep what we have on the statute books there. And if we do change anything, it should be from this point forward and not backing it up. Are you in agreement with that, sir?
DANNY STEBBINS: Well, I can -- as far as the statute goes, I think it's going to end up where we would not be able to meet it from time to time based on budgetary constraints, et cetera. There are times when we've been above that number, we've been at 1,262. There's been times when we've been below that. I would say that there's only been a few times that we were at the number, and not for a long time where we'd be above that number.
Because again, you know, we're always working hard at getting these classes ready to go in, but you have to understand at the same time we don't know how many that are reaching their 20th anniversary are going to come out and retire depending on the job market. So, you know, the situation will remain fluid no matter how the numbers are dictated. We can give a study every couple of years so that you can look at it, and hopefully agree with it, and go for that staffing. But there's going to be times when it goes above 1,248 depending on what's going on in society.
There may be other times when we can -- we're doing fine. In other words, we're keeping our -- our fatality rate down, we're keeping our crime rate down. You might all say that, you know, we're doing pretty good. So it will be a fluid number.
REP. ORANGE: And just -- just to remind you, this is a minimum staffing level so you can go over this level of -- of sworn personnel. You can go over it, you know, and it's no big deal. Actually it's even better to be over it so that when people are ready to retire or you are facing loss of personnel, that you're ready for a certain number. But I don't see us jumping up and down according to what -- what the state can afford every two years to create a staffing level because for all we know, we could go back to 600.
And we all know that that's not enough, and you know from our conversations that my main concern is the troop staffing levels in the troops. And you know that it's very difficult to obtain that information, but I know that they're very low. And when we initiated this 1,248, it was our hope that the -- the troop staffing level would actually increase to enhance public safety on the -- on the roads in the troop areas that -- that these troopers serve.
And it also is a safety factor for the troopers out there when they're calling for backup in an emergency situation. So it's for the public safety of the citizens and it's for the public safety of the police officer. And I think we have to keep that forefront in our minds.
DANNY STEBBINS: I agree with you on that. I -- I -- with the exception of the staffing at the troops being low, one of the reasons, I apologize that I didn't have those comments towards the end here, but earlier I did state that we have kept our minimum staffing, all staffed at the troops. We continue to, whether it be through overtime or the redeployment of resources from let's say the academy and headquarters and other non -- I'd call them emergency responders. We put those people back into the field so that we can maintain our minimum staffing. We have not gone below that.
REP. ORANGE: And -- and I thank you very much, Colonel, for coming before us today and discussing this once again. And I think that you and I will have more conversations regarding this issue because once again it is -- it is for the safety of the citizens and the troopers themselves that put themselves at risk every time they're going to a call for back-up. And if back-up is 20, 25 miles away, that's -- that's critical.
DANNY STEBBINS: I look forward to those conversations, Representative. You've been a supporter of us for a long time. It's much appreciated.
REP. ORANGE: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions from committee members? Hearing none, thank you very much, Colonel.
The next presenter from Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection is Steve Spellman.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Good morning, Senator Hartley, Representative Dargan, and distinguished members of the committee. My name is Steven Spellman, I'm Chief of Staff for Commissioner Reuben Bradford of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and I'm here today to speak on his behalf and on behalf of the agency in regard to six bills. We submitted written testimony in -- in regard to each of these six bills, and I will try to be brief in regard to my summaries.
First of these is Senate Bill 62, AN ACT CONCERNING THE CONNECTICUT PUBLIC SAFETY DATA NETWORK. What this bill would do is to provide a -- a governance procedure in statute for the Public Safety Data Network. The Public Safety Data Network was first entered into statute in 2005 when the General Assembly authored -- authorized use of the E-9-1-1 fund to connect the 107 PSAPs or public safety answering points, by fiber optic network, replacing the old copper wire lines.
At the time that this was done, it was recognized that the potential of this network was tremendous in terms of what it could do, and that it was highly desirable at some point in time to connect all public safety responders and providers, the municipal police departments and fire departments of the state of Connecticut. The unanswered question at that point in time was how to do it, how to pay for it. That question was answered when DoIT, now BEST, together with Department of Public Safety, now DESPP, was successful in obtaining a federal grant from the BTOC, broadband technology opportunities, for $94 million.
And that $94 million is being used for a Phase 2 of the public safety data network that will connect all public safety responders and providers. There is a significant gap, however, in the statutes in regard to governance, in regard to who will answer some basic questions in regard to what are the appropriate applications for the network, technical assessments, what would constitute basic core usage versus additional uses and the like.
What this Senate Bill 62 would do would be to provide for the governance procedure which would be the E-9-1-1 Commission in consultation with CAB, the advisory board which was created in last year's merger legislation creating DESPP. We believe that this is a procedure which will work best because E-9-1-1 Commission is used to dealing with these kinds of issues and with the consultation language in regard to the CAB or advisory boards, all voices will have an opportunity to be heard in regards to the process.
The second bill is Senate Bill 64, AN ACT CONCERNING THE REGULATION OF FIREARMS. This is a bill that you've seen before and have JF'd before. It's gotten caught up when it's left this committee in the JF deadline for the Judiciary Committee. There's nothing terribly controversial in this bill in regard to firearms.
It's in five sections. The first section would bring into conformity the carrying a firearm under the influence which is currently in statute at 0.1, to make it 0.08 as are other under the influence statutes currently in place. Sections two and three would conform state law to federal law in regard to the NICS program which is the Brady Bill, the National Instant Criminal Check, to provide additional information as to date and place of birth.
Section four would remove an archaic section from the statutes. The only section that is drawing some attention is section 5 of the bill which would provide for notice of gun shows to be given 30 days in advance as it is given to the local chief of police to my agency. I think our response to that has calmed concerns about it and that the intent is really to be user friendly in that when there are these gun shows, often on a weekend, you can have up to 200 transactions resulting from the gun show. And we want to make sure that we have sufficient personnel working those weekends in order to handle that increased workload.
Senate Bill 195, AN ACT CONCERNING THE STORAGE OF STOLEN PROPERTY. This bill in previous years was actually an agency bill, and we're pleased to see it appear again because it would help us in terms of what you saw from the Colonel's testimony, are scarce resources. Basically, it would raise the threshold from $250 to $1,000 in terms of having to meet the what can be rather stringent requirements of providing an inventory for the Clerk of the court in regard to evidence.
The evidence is still stored -- stored securely, but that paperwork requirement of preparing a formal inventory for the clerk of the court would be raised so that it would only need to be done if the value was in excess of $1,000.
Senate -- House Bill 5094, we -- we were extremely pleased when the General Assembly finally passed a Move Over Law and this bill is intended to strengthen that law. The existing law that was passed is only applicable to highways of three or more lanes. And what this 5094 would do would to -- would be to make the Move Over Law applicable by mirroring it to the definition of highway in Connecticut General Statute 14-1 so that it would be applicable on -- on limited-access highways of two or more lanes which include many sections of I-95.
Raised Bill 5096 is again is an agency bill and AN ACT CONCERNING THE FIREARMS EVIDENCE DATABANK. And this is a bill that is intended to eliminate a statutory requirement that is not of great value in terms of solving crimes. Currently, it is required by statute to do mandatory entry of bullet data information from test fires of seized firearms. Each one of those takes about 20 minutes of data entry time at the lab, which I know you're all aware has scarce resources. There's less than a one percent chance to make a confirmed bullet match in regard to these tests.
The much more accurate test is in regard to casings. So what we would like is -- is to have this statutory requirement that we have to do this test removed and allow the lab to make its own judgment as to whether it's something that is likely going to be of use in solving the crime. And -- and again it's much more typical that the actual casings are much more valuable.
Lastly, House Bill 5294 concerning lateral certification of police officers, we are merely advising that this bill may not be necessary as the agency is on a parallel track. We have submitted proposed regulations that would do exactly the same thing that this bill is proposed to do. Those bills -- those regulations have been submitted to the Executive Branch and we would intend to go forward and hopefully place -- put those into law and they would have the same effect as statute as long as we were able to get through the process. So with that I'll be glad to respond to any questions you may have.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Steven. I know that some of these bills have been before us and one not really related to this. If you could comment on, because a number of us on this committee have got correspondence from individuals referencing -- seem to be the backlog of licensing -- permitting for gun permits. And, you know, as we talk about that 1,248, we hear that the amount of personnel that are in there seems to be understaffed. So if you would like to comment on that, please.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Yeah, we -- we have lost some staffing in that unit. The unit that you're talking about and where the backlog is in regard to fingerprint processing. And a -- a huge expanding area in terms of agency responsibilities is in regard to what is called the use of fingerprint identification for non-criminal justice purposes. Specifically over a number of years, the Legislature has identified a number of positions where people are working with classes of people that might be at more risk than the general population, youth, and senior citizens, and the like, and said that we want people that are going to be going into these positions to have a fingerprint background checks to make sure that they're appropriate.
So the unit that's doing these is the same unit that's doing the fingerprint identification that is causing the -- the whole backlog that is also affecting the permit carriers. In regard to the permit to carry, there is in statute a specific timeline of eight weeks during which we're supposed to get a response. And we are striving to meet that in regards to the permits, actually putting those at a higher priority because of the statutory requirement to try to turn those around.
In terms of a long-term solution in terms of fixing the situation, technology can help tremendously. And last year when home health aides were added to the group that -- for which background checks would need to be done, there was some federal money which we have not yet been able to access that would provide I think in the range of 6 or $700,000 for some technology that would help us in terms of -- of addressing the backlog and doing things much more efficiently.
We've recently met with Ben Barnes at OPM and indicated that that money that -- that will be available at some point in time, if it was supplemented, it would enable us to do a much better job. And there is apparently some technology money available and OPM realizes the problem, and I think they're going to help us. In the meantime, we've had some other strategies in terms of some of the agencies that send us these fingerprints have agreed to take on some of the responsibilities themselves.
So -- so we're trying to work in a number of ways to address the backlog and, in -- in particular, in regard to the permit carriers. They're getting some priority and we are striving in every way to meet the eight weeks.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. One other question I had, Steve, that's not in a bill that's before us but it's dealing with two issues or combined issue the issue of profiling and the issue with federal ICE. And there's been a number of conversations about that and what recently transpired in East Haven and what's going on in New Haven and just for full disclosure, I'm from West Haven, so we're the friendliest city even though I'm from one of the Havens.
I, you know, there was recently an article in The Current about the issue of profiling, and I remember when my good friend Senator Alvin Penn was alive, we went forward with a bill. And for the first two years it was done through the State's Attorney's Office where a lot of local police departments would respond with traffic stop statistics. And then afterwards it went over to the African Americans Commission, and we really haven't done anything with that. So would you like to comment about the issue of profiling and on the federal issue with ICE?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Yes. Well, first of all, I would like to point out that the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in particular the Division of State Police, has been compliant from day one in regard to the Alvin Penn Act. We have -- we routinely -- we actually have a form that when people make a stop that they have to fill out to be in compliance with the act.
And -- and further in terms of providing the data to whoever the statute at that point of time provided, we've done. I think the shortfall in terms of the Alvin Penn Act has been, you know, you compile all the data and then what do you do with it? And -- and we've basically sent it where you tell us to send it. But I -- I can tell you that just a couple years ago when Colonel Davoren was Colonel, he asked for an in-house evaluation of what some of the procedures that state police -- some of the data that the state police had compiled. You know, so we -- it's something we are looking at a little on our own just in terms of our own house and what we're doing.
In regards to the -- the ICE and -- and the federal compliance, I can tell you that the -- the new federal law on -- on use of fingerprint data for -- for ICE purposes is something that essentially is like turning on the switch in the federal government. Where now when we send in fingerprints for whatever reason, you know, if it's somebody that we've arrested and taken their fingerprints or if it's a fingerprint for non-criminal justice purposes, that switch at the federal government is going to share the FBI database, you know, which is what everybody uses on fingerprints for immigration identification purposes.
The -- what will happen at the state level is -- is if something happens like once those fingerprints come to ICE and -- and they get a hit and they -- they decide that the individual, like who is in our custody, is somebody that they want to talk to for whatever reason, they would issue a -- a request to detain for 48 hours. And so the only decision, you know, the point I'm getting at is that in terms of this whole federal program, the only decision making that takes place for the state police is whether or not to honor the federal request to detain for the 48 hours.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Steven. Questions from other -- Representative.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you, sir, for your testimony. Just one quick question on 62, S.B. 62, which I like the data, will they -- could the state police share with the local police and fire department, will they be able to do that?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Absolutely. You know, this essentially -- when this is in place, this will be the finest public safety data network in the country. You know, the capabilities will be extraordinary in terms of ability to take radio communication and put it into the cable highway. Everything that the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection does will ride this network. So it's -- and one thing that I didn't mention at the beginning, when -- when they first talked about doing this, there was a study done that -- that showed that -- that moving to this fiber optic network over a period of ten years would save the state over $100 million.
REP. YACCARINO: Oh, I believe it, just by the communication alone. But I know hospitals are doing it now, there are sister hospitals all -- they're sharing their data. It's an investment, but it's a good investment. So I think it's a great idea. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Representative Gonzalez.
REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you. My question is about Bill 5294. And if I'm not mistaken -- well, my question is would a police officer apply for -- for -- they are seeking an employment with a different police department, they don't -- this bill is about they don't have to pass a physical test when they ask -- when they are seeking employment with a different police department, this is all about, right?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: That's what this is about. You know, right now they do and, you know, it's -- it's a lateral move, you know, you're moving from here to there. And the question is, you know, do you really need to repeat that step? And we basically agree with this bill that says you really don't need to. But our point is that we're -- we're attempting to do the same thing by regulation. So you can either wait on the regulation or pass the bill, you will get to the same place.
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. Right now they only take a physical test when they apply for the job, and then after that, that's it?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Well, it would -- whatever their own department required in terms of, you know, ongoing, you know, keeping yourself physically fit ongoing. But in terms of certification, yes, that would be it.
REP. GONZALEZ: That would be it?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Yeah.
REP. GONZALEZ: So if I -- let's say that a -- that a police officer that's working let's say New Haven and then ten years later applied for Hartford, what you're saying is that they don't have to take a physical, that after ten years you don't think that that's not fair? After -- because it doesn't say after how many years. So if a police officer is working in New Haven and he went through a physical test and then ten years later he applied to Hartford, you're saying that they don't have to go for a physical test?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Well, you would be talking about an active duty policeman who had kept up his certification during all those years which would include things like firearms training, you know, keeping yourself up to date. So you've got somebody who's working as a police officer who presumably, you know, would -- would have the physical fitness necessary to -- to, you know, if he's fit to work in one city, he's -- he's presumably fit to work in another.
REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Representative Rovero.
REP. ROVERO: I have a question I guess that was answered, but I -- I have a permit to carry a pistol and I don't ever want to give it up. I'm not in favor of drunk driving. But on the other hand, I can't imagine that I could be stopped for drunk driving, on the other hand I could carry my pistol and I wouldn't be considered on the alcohol. It's hard for me to believe that one's higher than eight-tenths. Is there any reason for this or how long has this law been on the books?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Well, I think it's just an oversight, you know, like, you know, the movement in regard to driving under the influence, you know, from 0.1 to 0.08, you know, obvious public safety considerations. But I don't think it was really looked at, the rest of the statutes, you know, like if it would make sense you're under the influence in regard to one protected activity, you should be in regard to another. I think it's -- it just wasn't -- wasn't looked at. Clearly it's something that should be in conformity.
REP. ROVERO: I -- I would imagine so, but I don't condone driving under the influence. But on the other hand, if I had choice of having eight-tenths, 0.08 driving a car or handling a gun, I'd rather have you driving a car. Thank you very much.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Thank you.
REP. ROVERO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions to --
REP. ORANGE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Steve.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Good afternoon.
REP. ORANGE: It's nice to see you here and I -- I would just like to make a couple of comments. That, first of all, that you are in agreement with the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, which is sometimes rare. So that's good, it's good progress I think on both -- both sides. And the other issue is the Move Over Law, and I, as you know, drive on an access highway most of the time, and I do try to move over. I always have tried to move over since I first learned how to drive.
And sometimes it's hard to get in that left lane. So I was just going to make the comment that the fire personnel are real big on this because they generally have, you know, more than one person or a lot of people usually at the scene of an accident, the police officer, the fire department, you know, EMTs and all, and they -- they would like to see this bill pass as well.
The comment that I have is I think it would be a good idea when we get this law passed that Lieutenant Vance perhaps talk about it as a safety piece so that people are aware of it. So that when I'm pulling out of, you know, my right lane into the left lane and that people realize that I'm moving over on an access highway road because of emergency vehicles of one sort of another. And that's it. Have a nice day.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Thank you much. I think that's an excellent point. And, you know, I'm of the opinion that the law itself, the most important part aspect of it is educational. You know, when it first came out we -- we had those DOT messages at entry to the state that this was a move over state. And the law, you know, it's not intended to catch people, you know, like it says, you know, to move over and slow down if it's safe or possible to do so. But the point is to make people conscious of this that this is a safety maneuver that they should be doing.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? If -- if I might -- I have one more question for Colonel Stebbins, if he could come up and he's -- thank you very much too, Steven. Colonel, just one question, it's not -- it's not related to any bill before us but it's referencing the consolidation of our PSAPs or of our -- within all the different barracks, and maybe you could just give the committee some information about that -- our -- I mean our answering points within the different barracks that we have and what we are looking and are trying to do?
DANNY STEBBINS: Yes, I can. We are currently in the process of consolidating the dispatch function of Troops A, B, and L, in the western part of the state. We're looking at bringing in the dispatchers from Troop B and Troop A into Troop L and we'll dispatch the three troops from one location. There's several reasons to do this that make it the right thing for us to do, we probably should have done it years ago, and I can list of some of them.
We currently use troopers at each of those three troops to dispatch and dispatchers both. The troopers, our goal is to return them to other law enforcement duties. Obviously dispatching is not a hazardous duty function, so we want to remove the troopers from that and put them into law enforcement functions. The emergency 9-1-1 calls that come into Troop B and Troop L are low according to the standards that the recent 9-1-1 Commission report put out as an example. They are in the 6 - 8,000 emergency 9-1-1 calls annually, so the goal would be to merge those with the Troop A so that our numbers come up and it's still manageable with the existing resources.
We've entered in agreements with judicial marshals to help move our prisoners out of the troops. We're working with Corrections for similar type duties. We have the funding to make this happen, it's going to cost us around, we hope, around $230,000. But for that we hope to return the five troopers from B to the road and the five troopers from A.
REP. DARGAN: Does a dispatcher who's not a peace officer, does he or she have the capabilities to get into some of the databases without somebody that's a law enforcement there, whether it be FBI or NIMS or any sensitive areas, or can a dispatcher do that?
DANNY STEBBINS: They have access to all the computers there within the dispatch area.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Any -- Senator.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. And good morning, Steve, and, of course, Colonel, back again. You must like that seat there. Steve, I just wanted to ask you the question that I had asked the deputy commissioner previously, and that was with regard to the process that was going on at the state lab where there was this so-called stacking of work schedules for the purposes of perhaps freeing up lots of time by which individuals were then serving as expert witnesses in -- in other venues.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: The -- what you're referring to I think is the fact that there were a number of people who were employed at the lab who have the capability to be expert witnesses in certain trials. And -- and what we were seeing taking place was them accumulating comp time and -- and during their comp time actually testifying at different trials.
This is an -- you know, as you're aware I think, Governor Malloy appointed a task force to look at a number of different issues at the lab including understaffing, the fact that at that point in time we had accreditation issues which have subsequently been solved, and the issue that you're describing is one that was brought up to this task force and looking at it.
One problem with the issue is -- is that in regard to like what the people do on their free time is -- is their free time. I mean if they choose to -- to be using that to -- to be expert witnesses testifying at trial, that's -- that's within their capability. That said, you know, there was concern about the -- the comp time issue and like, you know, how much comp time was being accumulated and used and so forth.
The -- we are currently in the process of bringing in a nationally-renowned DNA scientist who is going to provide direct advice to Commissioner Bradford and the task force in regard to structure of the lab and how to move forward. And -- and among the issues that he's being requested to look at is the one that you're describing and how best to address that going forward.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So, Steve, when is that review going on and when will the results be forthcoming?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Well, the -- the expert that we're bringing on will be for a six-month period. And I -- and I would think, you know, either during -- I think there are some changes that will be recommended that will happen immediately. And -- and there will be some changes that are recommended that will be requiring subsequent implementation including evaluation of whether we need collective bargaining agreement changes or -- or anything such as that. But -- but I think the latest of any of them would be at the -- at the end of his tenure advising the commissioner in six months.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So -- now I understand all of that, it just seems to me that good management practice doesn't need a consultant to come in and tell them, you know, about staffing levels. And absolutely correct that, you know, comp time and people's free time, however, it's the overall management of the staffing and the operation whereby you prudently accumulate comp time not for the purposes of accumulating it to leverage it into another -- another business so to speak.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Well, one thing that will be -- be looked at would be, you know, work that is accomplished during hours that comp time is -- is being accumulated and -- and comparing, you know, like how much actually work is coming out of the lab, making sure that you're getting your -- your bang for your buck in that regard.
But there are some, you know, some particular issues in regard to like how DNA is processed, you know, what sort of things you -- you check it against that -- that we could possibly be more efficient at in regard to the lab. And I think there have been some good things happening already. You know, I can tell you that -- that when -- when the lab first lost accreditation, one of -- one of Commissioner Bradford's responses was that there was a huge silver lining to this, one of the best things that could happen in that the lab would finally get the staffing that it needed. And Governor Malloy has been forthcoming in that regard. I think we've got staffing that we needed, and now we're looking at how best to structure the management to return it to the prominence that -- that it has.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And clearly it was a -- a flagship operation and great prominence, great leadership, and great staffing. So, yeah, that's a little hiccup in the road that we want to move well beyond. Okay. Thank you and we'll be awaiting -- we'll be awaiting the results of that.
STEVEN SPELLMAN: Thank you.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Senator. You're not off the hook yet.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Just a quick question just for clarification, when -- when you talk about accumulating comp time and then going off to testify, you're not testifying in relationship to their duties, they're -- they're testifying say in another state as an expert witness for compensation, correct?
STEVEN SPELLMAN: That is absolutely correct.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Okay. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions from committee members? Hearing none, thank you very much.
Keeping with our tradition that we're passed that one hour since we started at 11:06, we'll -- we'll rotate back and forth -- back and forth between the two lists.
First speaker on the public list is Mike Green.
MICHAEL GREEN: Good morning, distinguished Chairpersons, Vice-Chairpersons, Ranking Members, and members of the Public Safety and Security Commission. I'd like to thank you for taking the time on this extremely busy day to take a look at our -- at our hearing on the bill raised number 5248. My name is Mike Green, I'm the President of Tripolymer Foam Insulation, Incorporated. I've been involved with injection foam insulation for over 30 years.
Tripolymer, Incorporated, is exclusive distributor in the United States for tripolymer foam. It's a phenolic-based resin which, when combined with air and water, makes injection foam. Tripolymer has been used to insulate homes for over 30 years throughout the United States through our network of trained and certified professional installers.
It contributes to any lead points for new construction problem -- projects, it's environmentally safe, it's non-toxic, it's extremely fire resistant, non-corrosive, and has a high R-value. It's the best product on the market today for retrofitting insulation of older homes.
My network of dealers has insulated over 10,000 homes annually for over 30 years. I have tripolymer installed in my own home, my children's, my parent's. It's a -- it's a safe and workable product. I do support the ban on urea formaldehyde foam insulation, however, UFFI -- otherwise known as UFFI, but I'm here today is to modify the definition of UFFI.
I support the change in the -- the definition that the bill proposes. The correct -- the current definition is overbroad and prohibits other viable choices to consumers that will actually work better in their home for insulation.
California speaks directly to UFFI in regulations so stringent that UFFI is effectively prohibited there. California's definition of UFFI is the definition you are proposing in this bill, Raised 5248. Tripolymer is permitted in California. We are licensed in the state because tripolymer is a phenolic-based resin and is not categorized as a UFFI product, and by definition is not a UFFI product.
Connecticut's law, however, is so broad that it makes a product such as mine unlawful in the state, unlike any other state in the union. The -- the passage of this bill is important to at least three businesses located here in the state of Connecticut. They currently have to install tripolymer outside of the state. And when this bill is passed, excuse me, when this bill is passed, these businesses and several others who are waiting to take on our product in the wings will flourish in Connecticut and will be able to compete with the other insulation products, styrene, icynene and cellulose.
These dealers will be able to generate consumer and tax dollars, they're -- they're going to employ people, and they'll give the people of Connecticut an additional choice in making their homes more energy -- energy efficient.
I submit to you for your consideration testimony of these three dealers who would love to add their home state, Connecticut, to their service area. I believe the passage of this bill will serve to provide the same protection that was intended in 1981 when the law was written. But also it will give homeowners the choices, it will create jobs, generate business, and consumer tax dollars for the state of Connecticut. And finally I would like to recommend that the effective date be upon passage.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you for your testimony. Questions from committee members? Questions? Thank you very much for your testimony.
MICHAEL GREEN: Thank you for having me.
REP. DARGAN: The next speaker is Senator John McKinney.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Good afternoon, Chairman Dargan, Senator Guglielmo, members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. For the record, my name is John McKinney, State Senator from the 28th District and Senate Republican leader.
I am here before you today to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 32, which attempts to change a 1998 law that established the minimum staffing number for state police officers. For those of us like myself who were not here in 1998, I think it's worth remembering that in -- on January 3, 1998, Heather Messenger was murdered by her husband while she was on the phone with 9-1-1. It took state police over 20 minutes to finally arrive on the scene, and by that time it was too late.
It wasn't the fault of the state police officers other -- the reason was the fact that at that night Troop D in Danielson had only four patrol cars on duty. The legislation creating minimum number of police officers was passed in part because of that horrific accident -- incident, excuse me.
Earlier this year, we know the State Supreme Court -- State Superior Court ruled that a minimum of 1,248 state police officers is mandatory, not directory. That means that while staffing levels have rarely been maintained by state government in the decade since the law passed, state government would be statutorily bound to uphold minimum levels moving forward. By eliminating this provision as Senate Bill 32 does, we put our public safety at considerable risk. Trooper levels become just another line item in the state budget.
And let me speak to the state budget because it's been mentioned here by the agency as well. I asked our Office of Fiscal Analysis what the cost would be to add 168 state troopers, including training costs and everything all in. The net cost to the state in 2013 is $8 million, the net savings to the state budget in 2014 are $5.86 million. It costs us $2 million over a two-year period to hire and train 168 state police officers.
Public safety has not been, and to the credit of this committee, never been a partisan or political issue, and it's never been a budget issue because I think we all agree that public safety is our primary responsibility to the citizens of the state of Connecticut. It is ironic though that today we are here in another room in this building discussing keeping bars and restaurants open later to serve alcohol to 2:00 a.m., and here considering cutting the number of state patrol cars we have on our highways. I find that irony sad to say the least.
Let me point out a couple of other things with -- with real respect and admiration for the Colonel and his service and what he does for the agency and the department and public safety in the state of Connecticut. But he continue to refer to the minimum staffing levels as a static number and that personnel is fluid. And I agree with Representative Orange, and thank you for pointing out that it is not a static number. Static is fixed.
Our trooper levels are not fixed at 1,248, it is a minimum level and the agency can go above that if they need to. And it's also worth noting that all of the examples he gave for the need to have fluidity, extra gang violence, public safety, storms, et cetera, all of the examples he gave would lead one to believe you needed more state police officers not less. Minimum staffing levels are a good thing to do and we should maintain them.
Evidence as to why we need them. In 2011, we spent almost $15 million on overtime. That's one of the reasons why it only costs us $2 million, and in fiscal year 2014, it saves us $6 million. Think about that. We get more police officers, more patrol cars on our highways making our state safer because that's what they do, and we save money at the end of the day because we don't have all the overtime costs.
As to the agency's contention that we should get rid of the minimum staffing, they should come back to us once every two years and they'll tell us what the staffing level is, I have -- I -- I respectfully disagree. That is our role as well.
Let's take this into consideration, $15 million of overtime, and as Senator Hartley, Co-Chair, pointed out, Connecticut ranks near the bottom and worst for traffic fatalities on the highway. That tells me we don't have enough state police officers on our roads right now, if we're spending so much time on overtime and we're getting bad results. It's not because they can't do the job, because they can.
Lastly, I think if this committee is going to do anything -- I think if this committee is going to do anything, the best course of action would be to not take action on Senate Bill 32. Put together a task force or call it whatever you want, with the Legislature involved, state police officers, public safety, union leadership, to determine what a proper level would be. But we should not be doing away with that.
Lastly, let me just very quickly put in also a plug for House Bill 5247 which sets certain mandatory minimum sentences for an assault on a police officer and other emergency safety personnel. I know this committee has passed that bill in the past and would look forward to working with you to see if we can pass that through the Legislature as well. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Senator. Questions?
REP. ORANGE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good to see you Mr. Leader.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Thank you. First time before the committee, I appreciate being here.
REP. ORANGE: That's great, in all those years?
SENATOR MCKINNEY: I think so.
REP. ORANGE: That's good. First of all --
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Dargan never wanted me on the committee, so --
REP. ORANGE: First of all, I couldn't agree with you more with your testimony.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Thank you.
REP. ORANGE: You're right on the mark as far as I'm concerned. And when you refer back to Heather Messenger, that is my point to the department with the staffing levels at the troop. They -- did you say there were four officers that --
SENATOR MCKINNEY: My understanding is that at that night in Troop D, there were four patrol cars and that's what took so long.
REP. ORANGE: And -- and they're probably still at four, that was on a second shift call, they're probably still at four, they may be up to five which still isn't really adequate for staffing levels at a troop when you have all these miles to cross. So Heather Messenger, today, can certainly happen again.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: I -- I don't -- obviously none of us want that to happen, but I think we need to be mindful of the -- of the -- of history.
REP. ORANGE: Right, and that's why we have to be careful of, you know, people's -- as I said to the commissioner, the -- the public safety of the citizens that they serve as well as the troopers calling for someone to back them up and their safety as well.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: And I think, look, you know, when this law was passed in '98 I was not here, but it was unanimous in the House and the Senate. And a lot of members are still here from -- from that time including the Ranking Member in the Senate and the -- and the Co-Chair in the House. Again I think we ought to take our time before we would do anything with that minimum staffing level.
REP. ORANGE: It's always nice to be in agreement with you, sir.
REP. DARGAN: Representative Mikutel.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: A lot better for me too.
REP. MIKUTEL: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know I take a back seat to nobody when it comes to public safety, you know that.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Absolutely.
REP. MIKUTEL: My problem here is how would state government operate if every department had a minimum staffing level? If the Corrections people had a staffing level, if -- if the social workers had a staffing level, wouldn't that tie the hands of -- of Legislators and the Governor in managing the state government?
SENATOR MCKINNEY: No, it wouldn't. Look, first of all, we do these things regularly. It's about priorities. People would say to me, well, how do you afford, we have a budget deficit, we have tough times, how do you afford even $2 million for 168 troopers? My answer is you have to cut somewhere else or do something else, you have to prioritize. But in 2003, the Legislature did pass a law delaying the implementation of the minimum staffing level. Now I didn't vote for that law, but most did.
So if -- if we deem that at a time this level wouldn't work, we could do what we did in 2003. My last point would be we don't have minimum staffing levels for every agency in the state. I don't think we need minimum staffing levels for every agency in the state. I do think that public safety is different.
I do think -- and I think you'll agree in principle that the most important thing the government can do for its citizens, is protect its safety. And that's why this committee and -- and quite frankly the Legislature for the most part have had this issue be beyond politics or budget issues. And I think we need to keep it as such.
REP. MIKUTEL: Thank you. One final response from me is that where I live in Griswold, in the rural sections, quite frankly we don't rely on the state police for our protection, we rely on the Second Amendment. I'm serious about that. I mean all the people of my neighborhood, I can down there, 99 percent of them have a gun. And I'm saying that because the response time is not going to save their family. It's not, as I say, if someone wants to kill you, they break in the house, they're going to kill you within a few seconds.
And this response time issue, we must not create a false sense of security. No matter how quick they get there, people can kill you and they will kill you within seconds. So I'm all for a quicker response time, but I -- I like the Second Amendment as well.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? I have just a couple, I know that my good friend Ray Shea is here and he's the former President of the Uniformed Career Firefighters, and I know that John Olsen now at the AFL-CIO really likes that Senator McKinney, you turned the page and you're really a strong supporter of labor movement within the state of Connecticut, so that's good to see that a -- that a -- that the Senator leader on the Republican side is concerned about labor in the state of Connecticut. So we're happy to have you on board with us and we look forward to working with you in the future on future labor issues within the state of Connecticut.
But just to back up a little bit, we -- two prior administrations, which were Republican, there was numerous times that we, this committee, fought the prior two administrations, which were both Republican, to try to get increased trooper classes. And I -- I didn't hear too much from you at that time to be out front with us. So I was just trying to get your response, what has changed your mind from the two past administrations on getting those trooper classes on board to now?
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Sure and I appreciate the friendly jousting. I think if you asked the firefighters in our towns and state and police officers and construction workers, they'll find that I've been a very strong voice for them. That doesn't mean that all labor is the same, however. Representative Dargan, in 2003 this Legislature voted to suspend the 1,248 minimum trooper level. You voted for that, I voted against it.
I have consistently supported our state police officers and will consistently do that. I did that during a Rowland Administration, a Rell Administration, and a Malloy Administration. And that is what I will continue to do. I will note that there were times when this Legislature under leadership of your party, if you want to talk about parties, overrode vetoes by Governor's Rell and actually one under Governor Rowland.
But with a veto-proof majority, had you thought it was so important to do, we could have overrode any veto that Governor Rell offered, and you would have had all Republicans on this issue voting with you.
REP. DARGAN: Again, I appreciate that you're on board with labor and it's good that you've turned the page to be with us here today. Is there any further discussion?
SENATOR HARTLEY. Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. And to Mr. Majority Leader and my colleague, I thank you for appearing before us and for your strong advocacy. I believe that our statutes should not be laden with managerial minutia or mandates, if you will. However, having said that, I do agree with you that public safety is different, however.
And this is particularly true now, but it is true on an ongoing basis, and that is we must find efficiencies, we must operate as mean and lean and productive as we can. So in this instance where we are trying to protect the taxpayers on the highway as well as by virtue of their pocketbooks, it becomes a particularly sensitive issue. And I think that there's a commonplace for all of us.
I don't believe that there is a triangular table, I believe there is a round table and we should all be recognizing the task that we're asked to do. And so I appreciate your support because indeed there is nothing more important than the safety of the citizenry. And you are right about that national highway study which puts us in a very poor position and is gravely concerning as well as the resident trooper operations and so forth. So this is a difficult conversation. We have all come together offering the most productive outcome.
I think everybody can contribute to this. I do not like mandating and legislation these kinds of things. You know, because someone can begin to argue it from other sides, but it is public safety and so that's our quandary. But I really appreciate your advocacy and appearing before us today. And welcome the first time. You sat with us during the (inaudible) so you -- you can sit on this side as well, as you so now.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Thank you. And I don't disagree with you all. I'll just briefly say two things. One, in 2011 we spent $14,782,000 on overtime. That's an issue that we can look at from budgetary concerns as well. And second, if 1,248 exactly isn't the right number, the right way to approach that is to not do away with minimum staffing levels and then rely upon the agency to come tell us once every two years.
Let's keep it where it is, let's get to that staffing level, and then let's all sit down and work together and find out if there's a range of where we think we would best be suited for public safety.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yeah, I think that, you know, we do need to be flexible. We get very constrained when we are then tied up in a judicial matter, and I think -- I think that takes time and money and effort, and I think we all need to come together.
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Thank you.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Thanks.
REP. DARGAN: Representative Yaccarino.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Senator, for your testimony. I do agree with you not because you're a Republican, but because public safety is vital. And we're trying to bring more business into Connecticut, we'll have greater population. So you never want to cut public safety, fire or police. So I think it's important to wait, I think it's important to keep the numbers where they are, and I just agree with you. What we have to remember, we want to bring business in, that's our goal as Legislators and citizens --
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Let me -- let me just say thank you. For the record, no committee in this Legislature has done more for protecting public safety in the state than this committee has, so -- under current leadership and -- and past leadership.
REP. DARGAN: We -- we just have to do that because a number of committee members get a lot of traffic tickets.
REP. YACCARINO: I just think that we have to be careful when you start looking arbitrarily at numbers, and you have to really look at the results. And when a business comes to a town like our town, they want to look at the fire and police, it's no different in the state. You want to have a strong -- we have strong numbers. So I'm, you know, on this committee one year, I love it, but I think we should -- we should be slow in this process. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? Senator, thank you once again. Thank you for coming out --
SENATOR MCKINNEY: Sure and thank you for all your time. I appreciate it.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you.
The next presenter is Paul Rapanault, representing the Uniformed Career Firefighters of Connecticut.
PAUL RAPANAULT: Good afternoon, Senator Hartley, Representative Dargan, members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. My name is Paul Rapanault, I'm the Director of Legislative and Political Affairs for the Uniformed Professional Firefighters. We represent 5,000 career firefighters around the state of Connecticut and EMS personnel as well as -- as well as dispatchers. I'm here to speak to you briefly about several bills that we are supporting today.
Senate Bill 62, AN ACT CONCERNING THE CONNECTICUT PUBLIC SAFETY DATA NETWORK, you heard from the experts before me, so I'm certainly not going to bore you with any of the details. But it's about time that the state of Connecticut comes into the 21st Century and passes this bill. We have been waiting for this for a number of years, and we would, excuse me, certainly appreciate your support.
Senate Bill 200 is AN ACT CONCERNING THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE COORDINATING ADVISORY BOARD TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY SERVICES AND PUBLIC PROTECTION. This adds the executive director to the Connecticut Council of Small Towns as a member of the Coordinating Advisory Board. Last year when we were in negotiations over the coordinate -- over the consolidation of several different agencies into the new agency, DESPP, what we were trying to accomplish by putting this advisory board -- establishing this advisory board, is to have a body that would be able to communicate with each other and basically help the agency to get off the ground.
That's not going to happen if not -- if everyone is not at the table, all the players are at the table. By adding the -- the Council of Small Towns, we would be including everyone at the table. So we encourage that.
House Bill 5094 is AN ACT CONCERNING THE MOVE OVER LAW. Again you heard this morning from the experts, so I'm not going to bore you with that. Just basically just moves it from a bill which just covers the -- the major arteries in the state of Connecticut and expands it down to some of -- of the lesser arteries. So we would certainly appreciate your support on that.
House Bill 5247, is AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR ASSAULT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, EMERGENCY MEDICAL, PUBLIC TRANSIT OR HEALTH CARE WORKERS, and we certainly would appreciate that. Just on a personal note, you are all -- I know many of you are friends with Tom Carozza, and I know Tommy has been experiencing some challenges over the last few years, and if you could -- if I could just ask you for your prayers and thoughts at this time.
Tommy is having some challenges today, and if you could just keep him in your thoughts and prayers I know that will go a long way to helping him. So any way you can send him some energy, I would appreciate it. And if there's any questions, I would certainly entertain them.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Paul. Questions from committee members? Any questions?
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. Paul, good to see this morning and thanks for your --
PAUL RAPANAULT: Nice to see you.
SENATOR HARTLEY: -- testimony on all of these bills some of which we've seen before and hopefully we won't see them again, we can dispatch with them in a positive way. Thanks for the update on Tom and send him our personal best because he is in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you.
PAUL RAPANAULT: Thank you. I know he would appreciate that, Senator.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions or comments? Thank you very much.
PAUL RAPANAULT: Thank you.
Next presenter is Mayor Dan Drew from Middletown.
DANIEL DREW: Good afternoon, Representative Dargan, Senator Hartley, and distinguished members of the committee. My name is Daniel Drew, I'm Mayor of the City of Middletown, and I'm a member of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and I, as mayor, oppose Senate Bill 249, AN ACT CONCERNING THE DISMISSAL OF DEPUTY CHIEFS OF POLICE. This proposal would mandate that the dismissal of deputy police chiefs be kept internal within the police department and under the authority of the chiefs of police of any department and would, therefore, eliminate local chief executive official's discretion and flexibility to execute such critical administrative decisions.
Municipal CEOs are elected and accountable to the residents of their community. They need -- they need managerial prudence to meet the needs of their constituents. Senate Bill 249 seeks to abolish that key managerial discretion and would disrupt the foundation of accountability that is inherent among all local public safety officials including deputy chiefs of police and vital to the integrity of local public safety.
Make no mistake, proponents of this issue would be sure to seek additional mandated just-cause benefits down the road similar to previous years' attempts. State lawmakers were wise not to pass such special employment benefits before and should thwart these attempts again now. Simply put, it is not prudent statewide public policy to eradicate critical management procedures at the local level for the benefit of a specific class of employees.
And I would make the point that because deputy chiefs of police up through the chain of command are ultimately responsible to the mayor, the chief elected official of any given municipality, they're ultimately accountable to the people who put elected officials in place. And by implementing -- if this bill were to become law, that discretion would be removed from the chief executive and the elected officials, thereby removing that discretion from the people themselves and creating essentially an unaccountable or a less accountable official who would have those kinds of critical management decisions in his or her hands.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, mayor. Any questions or comments for the mayor? Just one because you have the most prior issue where you just recently let your police chief go for whatever reasons, and you feel that it should be the chief executive officer's right to do that for the assistant chief too?
DANIEL DREW: Yes, Representative. Actually the -- the recent termination that I implemented was our former acting chief of police who was the incumbent deputy chief of police. And when I removed that person from his position, he was in the deputy chief's position. I believe that the -- the discretion to make that decision needs to lie with the chief executive officer, because if it lies with the chief of police, the chief of police already has just cause protections under the law. You're removing that accountability from the chief elected official and thereby from the people that put that chief elected official in office.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you.
REP. MIKUTEL: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Well, having been a local official for many years, I -- I agree with your testimony. I -- I just think that bills like this just clause for lower officials only ties the hands of management. And you are the elected official, that's why they elect you to manage that -- manage that town. So it seems like -- it's like the camel's nose under the tent, once you start down this road. We have it for chiefs of police, correct?
DANIEL DREW: Yes.
REP. MIKUTEL: Pretty soon everybody wants to have that protection. And pretty soon local officials won't be able to manage their own government. So I support your testimony and I -- that's what I have to say, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much, Representative Mikutel. Further comments or discussion? Mayor, thank you very much for coming.
DANIEL DREW: Thank you, Representative. Thank you to the members of the committee, I appreciate your time this afternoon.
REP. DARGAN: The next presenter is Gregg Marchand.
GREGG MARCHAND: Good morning. I mean good afternoon. My name is Gregg Marchand, I'm from Willimantic. I'm here to voice my opinion on Bill No. 63, AN ACT CONCERNING THE TIMING OF TESTS FOR BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS AND OPERATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE cases. It should also include an act requiring alcohol and drug testing of police officers including for the anabolic steroid use to protect the public by ensuring that all police officers are alcohol and drug free, just as any other public service driver under the high risk safety sensitive occupation clause of random drug testing of employees.
I found out laws do not specifically exclude police which to me means they should be included for the following reasons and must take precedence. Some may be taking anabolic steroids to muscle themselves up. This steroid, excuse me, this steroid is a most dangerous drug. When the person's consume it, the adrenaline flow makes them mean almost vicious. As a taxpaying citizen, I believe it borders being corrupt and undermines public safety. Police should partake in these random tests for the reasons I mentioned prior.
Drivers that are obligated for the random drug tests do not have all these other powers, responsibilities, and other obligations police have. They are just drivers. Is this a double standard? Are we not equal in the eyes of the law? And when it becomes a law, unions cannot supersede it. From the National Institute of Health, excuse me, from the -- from the National Health Institute, research shows that the abuse of anabolic steroids may lead to aggression and other adverse effects.
For example, many users record feeling good about themselves while on the anabolic steroid, but extreme mood swings can also occur including manic-like symptoms that could lead to violence. Researchers have also observed that users may suffer from paranoia, jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility. Obviously this would be a public safety hazard.
I wouldn't want -- I wouldn't want a peace officer in this state of mind, would you? Here are more reasons why people should be tested, I mean excuse me, why police should be tested. Anyone that drives for a public service gets randomly tested. Police are public service, besides being on duty 24 hours a day plus many work double shifts. They must be alert at all times during what could be a very dangerous job. They carry guns, they have power of arrest while upholding the law, they have the option to drive faster as part of their job at times.
I testified this bill in 2005. I cannot for the life of my figure out why it did not become a law. People that have random tests, if they're on drugs, they would not take the test. Maybe police are taking drugs including steroids and the Public Safety Committee is afraid they'll -- they will lose too many police. Many Connecticut citizens think this is very possible. Police are on drugs, that is why they are not being tested. When police get randomly tested for drugs including for the anabolic steroid and have a positive result, this will make them a possible guilt for DUI.
You, being the Public Safety and Security Committee representatives and the voice for the people and of the people, I would expect you to do what is right for the public safety and trust, protect us and the police from this loophole. Many, including myself, find it hypocritical that police are not randomly tested for drugs including for the anabolic steroid. Most drivers that drive for the state or any other town or, excuse me, many drivers that drive for the state or any town gets randomly drug tested. State police may get tested under the reasonable suspicion clause, this never happens.
When a trooper gets in an auto accident, is that a reasonable suspicion circumstance? Any other driver that drives for a state or town entity gets drug tested immediately after an auto accident. This -- this makes police above the law. And as Abraham Lincoln said, no man is above the law.
There are many other adverse affects on a person's health due to this abuse of the anabolic steroid. Some are irreversible health problems bringing major money issues such as nonstop medical attention from which insurance companies pay from which the money is coming from tax -- from taxes the citizens pay for.
Again random drug testing for police must become a law for the public safety and trust. Lawmakers -- and, you know, makes me -- reminds of, you know, lawmakers are worried about Roger Clemons the pitcher of a professional baseball team being on steroids, yet they don't worry the possibility of public safety being on steroids.
I would also add -- I would also like to add your committee denied me the purpose to proposal this bill last session stating it's a federal issue and it cannot be changed at the state level. I found that to be false. There is no logical reason for police to be excluded from the random -- random drug testing, especially under the High Risk Safety Sensitive Occupation Law, because as we all know, police do have a high race -- high risk safety sensitive occupation. Thank you for your time.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much, Gregg. Is there any comments or questions? Comments or questions from anybody? Just one comment, Gregg, I know we've talked in the past and I know that recently there's been some issues in other states dealing with what you talked about with steroids. And it's somewhat troubling if -- if that's happening.
And I appreciate your testimony in coming here today, and I tried to reach out to a number of local police departments and -- and their unions dealing with the issue of random drug testing and whether or not that's in the collective bargaining agreement between management and union. And I know that few communities do that and most don't. Further comments from other members?
GREGG MARCHAND: I would also like to make a comment on the bill -- you know, you're -- you're worried about people driving -- you know, hunting and all that with a loaded gun and being over the limit. I mean, let's worry about our public safety first, because they are held to a higher standard than anybody. That's what their -- that's the job that they have, they're held to a higher standard. But yet they're not being randomly drug tested, it just doesn't make any sense. And --
REP. DARGAN: All right. Thank you. Any other questions from committee members? Okay. That's it, Gregg, we're all set then.
The next presenter is --
GREGG MARCHAND: Okay. Thank you for your time.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you.
GREGG MARCHAND: I appreciate it.
REP. DARGAN: The next presenter is Susan Bransfield, Portland First Selectman -- Selectwoman.
Also the people that are testifying, we do -- if you have written testimony, we have it in front of us. So we really haven't rang anybody out with the three-minute warning yet. But if you think that your comments are going to go over that timeframe, if you could just summarize, and then we'll get to questions. Thank you.
SUSAN BRANSFIELD: Good afternoon and thank you, Representatives and Senators, and thank you for all the work that you do for public safety. My name is Susan Bransfield, I'm First Selectman of the Town of Portland, and I'm also the Chairman of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Committee on Public Safety.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, as you know, is the statewide association of towns and cities and is the voice of local government, your partners in governing Connecticut. Our members represent over 90 percent of Connecticut's population and we certainly appreciate the opportunity to testify on bills of interest to towns and cities.
The one that I'm testifying on today is Senate Bill 195, AN ACT CONCERNING THE STORAGE OF STOLEN PROPERTY, and CCM strongly supports this bill. This bill would amend the state mandated threshold that requires local police officials to seize and store stolen property from the current value of over $250 to a proposed value of over $1,000. By law, local agencies may return stolen property to an owner if the value is equal to or less than the current threshold.
This proposal is a reasonable adjustment to the current law that would offer some relief, which is very important. Any relief we can get is good. Some relief for our local law enforcement personnel from certain administrative burdens such as logging, storage, and inventory of items as well as to permit the rightful owners access to their own property in a more timely manner to vital, sensitive property such as personal computers and smart phones. The threshold that triggers the state mandate has not been adjusted since the mid-1980s, and doesn't accommodate for increases in the values of personal properties that we have seen during this time period.
The committee favorably reported and the House passed a similar proposal last session as a modest relief measure for municipalities from the state mandate, and it would be wise for you to do so again. CCM and myself urge the committee to favorably report S.B. 195. Thank you for the opportunity this afternoon.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Susan. Questions from any committee members?
SENATOR DAILY: I -- I'd say our Chair was slightly remiss in not saying the wonderful Susan Bransfield.
SUSAN BRANSFIELD: Thank you, Senator Daily, the wonderful Senator.
SENATOR DAILY: And I think you have a very good for all our municipalities, they deserve the relief.
SUSAN BRANSFIELD: Yes, and if I can just reiterate, any time you can help local officials relieve some of the burdens that they are experiencing is certain valuable. And I appreciate the opportunity to let you know what good work you're doing. So thank you.
SENATOR DAILY: Well, certainly this provides a little bit of relief to municipalities without trampling the rights of our citizens at all either. So I think it's a good way to approach it.
SUSAN BRANSFIELD: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions? Thank you very much for coming and testifying.
SUSAN BRANSFIELD: Thank you. Have a good afternoon.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Brooks Pierce, representing Sportech. It's good that Brooks is coming to testify on something besides police, fire, and onto gaming issues.
BROOKS PIERCE: Thank you very much. Senator Hartley, Representative Dargan, and distinguished members of the Public Safety and Security Committee, I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today in support of Raised Bill 5095, AN ACT CONCERNING OFF-TRACK BETTING FACILITIES.
The proposed legislation provides local communities the opportunity to decide whether to include simulcasting or rather the display of video when considering an opportunity to host a new off-tracking betting facility. Currently a local community can vote in favor of hearing -- of having a branch in their town, but then needs state legislative permission to show the live race. Patrons would be able to hear the race and wager on the race, but not watch the race approved by the state Legislature.
As you may recall, we've come before the committee over the last few years to ask for Legislation to allow simulcasting at our facilities in Milford, Putnam, New London, Manchester, and Willimantic. A new business model incorporates racing into existing or newly created sports bars. This has been a benefit to these businesses allowing them to generate additional food and beverage revenue in a very difficult economic climate.
It also assists the towns in which these facilities are located by generating revenue and jobs for the community. In fact, in the last 12 months, our five new facilities alone have created positions for over 30 employees and generated $600,000 in taxes for the state of Connecticut and those local towns.
We are asking to streamline the process. We currently operate 15 sites throughout the state and have the right to open 3 additional branches. The current process requires us to get local approval to open a branch, get approval from the Department of Consumer Protection, DCP, and then return to the Legislature for one thing, to allow the races to be shown on television.
If we get that approval -- approval, we then have to return to the local community and the DCP to get their final approval to include simulcasting at the facility. This last step is largely a formality, but it adds time to the process. The second step, coming back to the Legislature to get permission to televise adds typically a year to the process.
In no case where we have gotten local and DCP approval in the past has the General Assembly denied us the opportunity to televise the races. It's not efficient for the community, Sportech, or the state Legislature to have to come back periodically to introduce legislation for the right to televise races. Simulcasting or -- or the display of video enhances the experience of the racing fan by allowing them to watch and listen to the race. Without simulcasting, racing fans can only view the odds and hear the race call.
Members of the public can view live horse racing over cable TV, over the internet, and even on their mobile phones or iPads. Indeed if you log onto ESPN.com or the website of almost any racetrack in the country, you can view streaming video of live horse races.
It's been our experience that states with legalized pari-mutuel wagering do not typically require additional legislation to televise races at a wagering facility. More commonly, they're concomitant approval of televising a race once the state's racing commission has approved wagering.
Sportech purchased the off-track betting operations from Autotote in October of 2010 and is committed to growing the company, creating jobs, and increasing tax revenue to the state and local host communities. Sportech has been a good corporate citizen in Connecticut and the towns where we do business. We have relocated our North American headquarters to New Haven and have invested approximately $3 million in improvements in our facilities in the last 12 months.
Our business is showing positive trends after several years of decline, and we believe that removing this unnecessary and burdensome regulation would be helpful. And it echoes the Governor's call to make Connecticut a more business friendly state. I ask for your full support of Raised Bill No. 5095. And again thank you for the opportunity to provide my testimony.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Brooks. Any questions from members of the committee? I know just looking over your testimony, what wasn't included -- do you have the breakdown of individual OTB facility that's in each one of those communities, is it 1.9 percent that goes to that host community?
BROOKS PIERCE: Yeah, it's actually 1.9 that goes to the state and 1.6 that goes to the local community.
REP. DARGAN: Okay. And that's on total wagers that comes into that facility?
BROOKS PIERCE: That's correct.
REP. DARGAN: Okay. Thank you. Further questions? Thank you very much, Brooks, for your testimony.
BROOKS PIERCE: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Representative Mike Molgano.
REP. MOLGANO: Hopefully my voice projects loud enough. Good afternoon, Honorable Co-Chairs Senator Hartley and Representative Dargan, Honorable Vice-Chairs Senator Daily and Representative Jutila, Ranking Members Senator Guglielmo and Representative Giegler, and members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. My name is Mike Molgano, I'm the State Representative for District 144. I thank you for providing me the opportunity to testify on House Bill No. 5295, AN ACT CONCERNING ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYMENT AS A POLICE OFFICER.
The statement in the Police Officer Standards and Training Council regulations reads, I quote, "crime in any other jurisdiction that would if committed in this state, constitute a Class A or Class B misdemeanor". I quote this regulation because as it stands, a duly appointed police officer from a jurisdiction outside Connecticut who had committed such a crime before becoming a sworn protector of the law is prohibited from attaining a police officer position within Connecticut.
The regulation disallows POST from considering the accomplishments and successful career of a person wishing to serve and protect the people of Connecticut. I am asking the Public Safety and Security Committee to please pass H.B. 5295 so that a person who has proudly served as a police officer outside of Connecticut may obtain the opportunity to serve as an officer within Connecticut. The bill does not usurp the council's authority to discern all necessary prerequisites and qualifications to serve as an officer of the law. It permits POST to acknowledge a person's law enforcement career despite a past offense. Thank you and I'd be happy to take any questions the Committee has.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Representative. Questions from committee members? Any questions.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Mike, good to see you. When you looked at this legislation, do other states do it or did you check with the police chiefs of Connecticut?
REP. MOLGANO: I checked with my police chief and captain of our police force and they were very open to this idea. I have not checked other states, I'm sorry. I could look into though.
REP. YACCARINO: I think -- it's a reason why here though.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions? Hearing none, thank you very much for your testimony.
REP. MOLGANO: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Jeff Matchett representing Connecticut Council of Police Unions, AFSCME Council 15.
JEFFREY MATCHETT: Good morning. Good afternoon, I'm sorry. Representative Dargan, Senator Hartley, and other members of the Public Safety Committee. My name is Jeffrey Matchett, the Executive Director of AFSCME Council 15 and just let me -- bear with me for a moment to go off my testimony. I am normally joined by Tommy Carozza, our -- our lobbyist and colleague of the council. As Paul Rapanault had referenced before, he has taken a turn for the worse. He has been battling and he's been very courageous. So I'm just asking everyone to keep him in his thoughts and prayers going forward.
I'm here today to speak in favor of several bills one of which is 5294, AN ACT CONSIDERING A LATERAL TRANSFER CERTIFICATION OF POLICE OFFICERS. That act is intended -- or the act is intended to clarify changes made to the Connecticut General Statute 7-294 last year by the passage of Public Act 11-251.
I was up here last year and testified for this bill, and it was intended to eliminate the need for certified police officers to satisfy the entry level physical fitness requirements at POST. Despite a clear legislative record of intent, the bill to eliminate the physical fitness requirement, the act has been interpreted to still require the satisfaction of physical fitness requirement for lateral transfers. This bill simply clarifies the intent behind the passage of 11-51 last year and clearly eliminates the requirement of passing the physical fitness requirements of POST for lateral transfers.
I'm also here to speak in favor of 529 -- I'm sorry, 5247, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR ASSAULT ON PUBLIC SAFETY, EMERGENCY MEDICAL AND OTHER TRANSIT OR HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL. We support this bill because our members are regularly exposed to threats of acts of violence from members of the public and increased penalties for assault on police officers should help stem the tide of violence against police officers.
Over the last five years alone, an average of 50 police officers have been killed by gunfire in the line of duty. In addition, hundreds of police officers are injured each year as a result of assaults by members of the public. This bill will help foster an awareness within the public that our state will not tolerate assaults of its public safety officers and will help ensure that our officers are granted the respect they have earned in the performance of their duties.
I'm here to speak today in opposition of 249, the ACT CONCERNING THE DISMISSAL OF DEPUTY POLICE OFFICERS OR POLICE CHIEFS. We oppose this bill only to the extent that some deputy chiefs are members of a bargaining unit and this act would not -- should not be used to trump their rights provided to deputy police chiefs by collective bargaining agreements.
I also just want to make mention, it's not on my testimony, but of House Bill 5094, the Move Over Law, that we are in favor of that as well.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much for your testimony. Any questions from committee members? Hearing none, thank you very much.
JEFFREY MATCHETT: Thanks, Representative Dargan.
REP. DARGAN: The next presenter is Representative Rob Sampson.
REP. SAMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning Chairman Dargan and the rest of the members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. Thank you for allowing me to testify today on H.B. 5245, AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER. I submitted this bill and also another similar bill in an effort to preserve each citizen's Connecticut Second Amendment liberties. It's actually a shame that this bill is even necessary.
The goal of this legislation is simply to require each municipality in Connecticut to follow the same identical uniform criteria when issuing a temporary pistol permit, which is required as part of the process for obtaining your state permit. It has become widely known that some municipalities are delaying the issuance of temporary pistol permits notwithstanding the applicant's suitability, but because of political reasons.
The reason our Second Amendment exists is because our founders believed that as American citizens -- citizens, we are individually sovereign. It follows that as such we would also have the right to defend our individual persons. The Second Amendment is clear on its face, each U.S. citizen is guaranteed the right to bear arms. The necessity and also the constitutionality of any permitting process, while it's widely accepted today, is itself a debatable thing. In fact Vermont requires no pistol permit whatsoever, relying solely on the Second Amendment as the final rule of law on this.
Basically, I'm not trying to expand anything, I just want to make the point that if we are going to have a permitting process, it needs to be clear and uniform and must have enough protection in it to avoid abuse from any particular municipality or municipal official, that's all.
Finally, I'll make the point that this right is an absolute right, that obviously our founders saw -- thought was very important, it is indeed second, it's not 30th or 100. It is second only to our First Amendment which guarantees our freedom of speech and religion in the press and so forth. So I think that's pretty clear that they thought that it was important at the time.
And I just -- I feel like we've drifted a long way from having that recognition for our second amendment. And this bill is just a baby step to get us back in that right direction. I want to make a suggestion as well for a small amendment. As I stated above, the goal of this legislation is to reestablish the existing criteria as to what is required for the issuance of a pistol permit. And the change I want to make is that makes it clear that no additional criteria can be asked for by a municipality.
So I can hand this in to someone or I can tell you exactly what I want to do. It's just a couple of word change in lines 28 and 29, strike where it says additional forms, because basically the bill says no additional forms would be required, but that does not preclude some other thing being required (inaudible) or what have you. So instead of additional forms, insert information not required by statute in lieu thereof. Thank you very much.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much. Yeah, any of those revisions, if you could just get them to our clerk so -- for our deliberations, would be --
REP. SAMPSON: I will, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Any questions at all from any members? Hearing none, thank you very much for your testimony, Representative.
REP. SAMPSON: Thank you for the opportunity, Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Scott Wilson.
SCOTT WILSON: Actually -- honorable members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. My name is Scott Wilson, I am a resident of New London. I am a founding member and current President of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. We are a large Second Amendment rights organization with 2,000 members plus and growing. And I'm here to testify on a -- on a couple things today, primarily H.B. 5245 and S.B. 196. And my comments on 196 will be brief. I do think it would be a good thing to basically do away with some of the redundancy in paperwork that -- that firearms retailers have to -- have to submit when they sell firearms in Connecticut. It's just -- it's above and beyond. If anybody here has purchased a firearm, they'll know what it's like when they -- it's like buying a house practically when you walk out of a firearms shop.
But back to 5245, AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEMPORARY PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER. I'm going to also echo Senator -- Representative Sampson's comments on the -- the additional forms. Actually this -- this bill was very similar to Senate -- Senate Bill 967 from last year, and that -- that bill died in the Senate. And myself reaching out to Senator Markley last year had attempted to have it raised as an amendment with that very same change in language that -- to do away with forms or form and not supplement it by additional information as required by state statute.
I think this would go a long way to help the applicants in Connecticut that want to apply for a pistol permit to be able to do so. In Connecticut I receive -- personally I receive dozens of emails every month from applicants in Connecticut that are just bombarded when they go to certain towns and cities, different municipalities, with information that are far above and beyond what the state statutes are. And I would think that in today's day and age of electronic databases and background checks, that a lot or most of this could be done with.
Very simply, the Board of Firearms permit examiners ruled in 2009 that the information to file for a pistol permit, anything above that is not required by state statute and we want to reinforce that position. So that is the bulk of my testimony as far as I have no position right now, our organization has no position on S.B. 64 or H.B. 5096. Again I hope that this committee will help this bill move forward with the amended suggestions by Representative Sampson and myself to -- to help further this bill along. Any questions?
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much, Scott. Questions from any committee members? Hearing none, thank you very much.
SCOTT WILSON: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Chief Salvatore and Chief Reed.
MATTHEW REED: Good afternoon, members of the committee. My name is Matthew Reed, I'm Chief of Police with the Sound Windsor Police Department. I am Legislative Co-Chair for the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. My colleague, Chief Salvatore, was called to court and had to leave. I'm on the last legs of my voice as this cold continues to batter me, so I will be brief in my comments. We have submitted written testimony concerning our support of Senate Bill 195, AN ACT CONCERNING THE STORAGE OF STOLEN PROPERTY. We support this in that the value of the property that local police departments are required to catalog and keep in their local property room should be raised to $1,000. We support that.
Regarding Senate Bill 196, the recording of pistol and revolver sales in a bound book, we do support this. However, according to the language of the recommended statute is only the Commissioner of the Department of Emergency -- DESPP, who can inspect that book. We as the municipal police chiefs are the ones who issue those permits to sell pistols and revolvers at retail, so we believe we should also be able to look at that book.
We also support House Bill 5294, AN ACT CONCERNING THE LATERAL CERTIFICATION OF POLICE OFFICERS. We support that language. You should know that POST is also working parallel to this in amending their regulations to allow for the transfer without requiring the physical fitness requirements be met for certification. Our one concern is this, as an employer, the municipality should still be able to test respective applicants and have them meet whatever standards the town feels that they should meet.
We as employers would hate to see the applicant come to us, use this proposed change as a sword against the municipality to say no, no, no, I don't have to meet any physical fitness requirements. As employers, we want them to meet the physical fitness requirement, or at least in my community I do, and I know there are other chiefs who feel the same way. However, we don't feel that their certification needs to be predicated on the meeting of that standard at the POST level.
As far as Senate Bill 249 goes, dismissal of the deputy chief, we're not sure the genesis of that. However, I've had several chiefs call me in opposition to that because there are some chiefs who have the authority to hire and fire their number two and they want to retain that authority, while that authority remains vested in other communities that may remain invested in the CEO or the elected -- top elected official in that community. So that's our position as far as Senate Bill 249.
If there are any other questions regarding any other pending legislation, those were the most important ones that we wanted to take positions on, but I can certainly answer any other questions.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Chief Reed. Questions from any committee members?
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you, Chief. On the police chiefs -- removing the assistant police chief, our town, North Haven, we have selectman form of government and our police commission hire - really recommends assistants. So I -- I do agree with you. It should be, I think, between the commissioner, the chief, and the first selectman or the CEO of the town basically. But the police know better, I think, than -- or at least the commissions along with the chief know better than I think --
MATTHEW REED: Our fear is the unintended implications of a broad stroke change to the process that is in place that may be to the detriment of some communities, while it may help others.
REP. YACCARINO: I spoke to our chief and assistant -- the deputy chief yesterday. I mean I've known them for quite a long time, and obviously they feel that it should be within the -- within the police commission along with the existing chief. As far as the lateral, S.B. 294, I -- I agree with the lateral, I do agree with you though as far as the physical fitness test, not the other test because in the military you have to perform you have to be --
MATTHEW REED: Correct.
REP. YACCARINO: -- physically fit. That's all I have to say. Thank you.
MATTHEW REED: Thank you.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? The question that I have and a former presenter who's been here for a number of years dealing with random drug testing within the law enforcement community and then more recently the issue, not specifically that there's been that many documented issues in Connecticut but some surrounding states dealing with steroid use within the law enforcement community.
And also understanding, you know, a number of communities have collective bargaining agreements, and some of them have, you know, when you -- when you apply for the job the entry level requirements may be dealing with body fat, smoking, et cetera, and that is in some of those collective bargaining agreements. But I was just trying to get the chief -- the Chiefs of Police Association what their view is dealing with issues that has been brought up here today.
MATTHEW REED: I know that there are departments who currently do random drug testing, it's allowed even through their current -- current bargaining unit agreement. Or if it's not addressed in the current bargaining unit agreement, the municipality has said they are free to exercise that right under their management rights. And there are other departments who don't do it for a variety of reasons.
You know, at the time in South Windsor, we have not done that in the past, but the next community over, Manchester, they do do it and I think recently had to dismiss an officer as a result of that test. So I know that across the state it's handled in different ways. I don't know what the best approach is. I think the negotiation of the issue in collective bargaining unit agreements is certainly a tremendous issue to be -- to be handled.
And I think that a community that does not currently do it, who decides to unilaterally implement random drug testing is going to have some -- some union opposition. So I don't know how best to address that, whether it becomes statutory and says that it has to occur. But I think if you start to look at testing standards, there's a whole plethora of testing standards, whether they be ongoing physical fitness testing standards, psychological fitness testing standards, or drug testing standards. I don't know that any one is more important than any other when it comes to public safety personnel.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Chief, for that. Further questions? Hearing none, thank you very much.
Our next presenter is Leonard Benedetto.
LEONARD BENEDETTO: Good afternoon, Senator Hartley and Representative Dargan, and the members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. My name is Leonard Benedetto, I'm a resident of Stratford. I'm also a founding member and the Vice President of Connecticut Citizens Defense League. As you've already heard that we have 2,000 plus members and we're the largest grassroots pro Second Amendment organization in the state. I'm testifying in support of House Bill 5245, AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT TO CARRY PISOLTS AND REVOLVERS.
I'd like to start by thanking Representative Sampson for sponsoring this bill. In my position for CCDL, I hear stories all the time from people that are being asked for extra information by their local issuing authorities that is not required by the state. They've also been asked to sign release forms allowing them to delve much deeper into the candidate's background than required. Some of this extra information is absolutely an invasion of privacy that carries no bearing on whether or not the applicant is an acceptable candidate to be issued a permit.
Things like credit checks, which in today's economy and with unemployment still at an all-time high, may disqualify a law-abiding citizen in the eyes of these local issuing authorities; the physical health background, these checks which serve no purpose whatsoever; employer interviews which brings nothing but to tell your employer what you do in your spare time which absolutely is none of their business; neighbor interviews which now notifies your neighbors that while you're not home, that there are firearms in your house, in some neighborhoods, not really a smart idea.
Things like three letters of reference that are notarized, letters of reference are normally written by your friends so they're always going to be positive, and does nothing but to add an extra effort to the task for the applicant and increases the cost to them paying for notarization and now having to cart three of their friends to a notary to get things stamped and signed; passport photos, again another added step and cost to the applicant.
When you actually get your -- your permit, your state permit, your photo is taken. I'm sure besides the photo that's on the hard copy of your permit like your driver's license, I'm sure the state keeps a copy, so they already know what you look like.
I'd just like to say that even with these issues that I discussed that will be fixed by this bill, unfortunately there are still numerous other ways that local issuing authorities continue to impede and delay the process for law-abiding citizens. In closing, this bill is absolutely a step in the right direction and I ask you all to support it. Thank you very much.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much, Leonard, for your testimony. We also have testimony I think from your wife, from Virginia --
LEONARD BENEDETTO: Yes.
REP. DARGAN: -- Virginia Benedetto?
LEONARD BENEDETTO: Yes.
REP. DARGAN: Any questions? Thank you very much.
LEONARD BENEDETTO: Thank you. Have a great day.
REP. DARGAN: The next presenter is Judy Aron.
JUDY ARON: Good afternoon, committee members who are here. Thank you all so much for all the work you do for public safety in Connecticut, we really appreciate it, I do anyway as a citizen here. I'm here today to support the four bills, S.B. 196, which is AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECORDING OF PISTOL AND REVOLVER SALES IN A BOUND BOOK; H.B. 5096, which is AN ACT CONCERNING THE FIREARMS EVIDENCE DATABANK; H.B. 5245, AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION OF REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR A REVOLVER; and H.B. 5246, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PERMIT TO SELL PISTOLS OR REVOLVERS.
Now I myself am a law-abiding gun owner in Connecticut, been through the pistol permitting process. I belong to many Second Amendment organizations including Connecticut Citizens Defense League and the Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership. I'm here today to support some common sense legislation that has come before this committee.
S.B. 196 will sensibly change the process of purchasing a handgun and reduce duplicative recordkeeping. This will help to allow gun sellers to pay more attention to the person they are selling pistols and revolvers to instead of wasting time and effort on recording information for two separate entities. This way the information can be kept according to federal law and the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection will be welcome to examine that information at any time. And I think, as a citizen, I think that makes perfect sense.
H.B. 5096 will revise the procedures for the submission of handguns and discharged ammunition -- ammunition to the firearms evidence databank. These updated procedures will allow for more meaningful and accurate collection of information and documentation of evidence. We all know that with computerized systems, there is the old adage, garbage in, garbage out. And I feel that these added measures will help just -- will help justice be served in trials and create a data collection system that will have integrity.
H.B. 5246 permit -- provides that a permit to sell pistols or revolvers authorizes the holder of such permit to also make sales at any meeting or exhibition of an organized collector's group or any gun show. And I think that if you have the proper permit to sell pistols or revolvers, then you ought to be able to sell them at gun shows, exhibitions, and collector's groups. These are law-abiding citizens as well that we're talking about who are engaging in these activities. They sell antique guns and other kinds of weaponry. They should be free to make their sales at these venues.
Now most of all, I thoroughly support H.B. 5245 which will specify uniform criteria for an application for a temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver. It is about time that this bill be proposed, and it should be passed. It's just ridiculous that we have such an inconsistent patchwork of requirements across Connecticut from town to town with regard to permit applications.
First of all, passing this legislation would help to ensure that municipalities do not overstep their authority with regard to state permit requirements which results in an unfair treatment of law-abiding applicants. Too many towns ask for superfluous and sometimes even irrelevant information in the permitting process. And this ends up costing taxpayers money and the time it takes to process a permit.
It also makes the permit application process a longer and in some cases a costlier procedure than is required of the applicant by state law. This legislation will go a long way to saving our municipalities time and money because they will only have to require what this legislation requires of permit applicants. It will also ensure consistent and fair permitting process across the state. And I believe that that's something that we would strive for is fairness. Please support these important and sensible pieces of legislation, and I thank you so much for your time this afternoon.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much for your testimony, Judy, and spending time out of your busy day to come testify. Any questions from committee members?
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. If I was going to go to a gun show and want to buy a pistol, do I have to -- is there any background check or --
JUDY ARON: Sure.
REP. YACCARINO: So it's right then and there that day?
JUDY ARON: I believe they do. They, you know, whenever you --
REP. YACCARINO: (Inaudible.)
JUDY ARON: When you -- when you -- I mean I've never bought a firearm at a gun show. But from what I know when you go to a gun show and you're -- and you're looking to buy a firearm, they do the same background checks, the same --
REP. YACCARINO: So they'll have computers there --
JUDY ARON: Yup.
REP. YACCARINO: -- just so -- you give them your ID and they check if there's any red flags?
JUDY ARON: That's right.
REP. YACCARINO: I was just curious. Thank you.
JUDY ARON: Thank you.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? Hearing none, thank you very much for your testimony.
JUDY ARON: Thank you. Enjoy your day.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you.
Next presenter is Sal Annuziato, representing NexGen.
SAL ANNUZIATO: Good afternoon, Senator Hartley, Representative Dargan. I'm Sal Annuziato, I'm the Managing Principal of NexGen Public Safety Solutions, this is my CTO, excuse me, Tim Murray. We're located in East Haven, Connecticut, and we thank you for the opportunity to comment and support S.B. 62, AN ACT CONCERNING THE CONNECTICUT PUBLIC SAFETY DATA NETWORK.
S.B. 62 will provide the state with a solid footprint for finalizing implementation of the Connecticut Public Safety Data Network to improve connectivity throughout the state to enhance public safety. It will do so by, one, consolidating stand-alone networks, two, enhancing 9-1-1 data exchange functionality, three, connecting all public safety responders, and four, providing for the convergence of data and voice.
Now all public safety agencies will be able to transmit digital information across a fiber optic IP-based platform. This will resolve concerns regarding network speed, redundancy, interoperability, data sharing to enhance the delivery of crucial data to public safety responders. NexGen utilizes the Connecticut Public Safety Data Network in providing software solutions to meet the public safety needs of state agencies and municipalities throughout Connecticut. Our products and services are utilized by public safety officers in 114 out of 169 cities and towns throughout Connecticut, along with the University of Connecticut's main campus and Central Connecticut University Police.
As such, NexGen understands the vital importance of completing implementation of the Connecticut Public Safety Network. Through our law enforcement -- enforcement administrative system, NexGen provides a full interactive operation suite integrating computer-aided dispatching, records management system, mobile data terminals, and vehicle location systems, as well as electronic citations.
Mobile applications allow police officers to complete and submit paperwork from their cruisers, ensuring that they can maintain a strong police presence in the community and not be stuck at their desk swamped with paperwork. Nothing stops crimes like the presence of police. The Connecticut Public Safety Data Network provides the platform for these technologies which improve efficiency and workflow of departments so the focus stays on the pursuit of public safety's mission to work together to keep police and citizens safe.
NexGen, therefore, urges the committee to support S.B. 62 to move Connecticut toward full implementation of data network that improves connectivity and data sharing to ensure that public safety responses -- responders, excuse me, have the information they need to respond quickly to protect the safety and citizens of Connecticut. Thank you for your time.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Sal, for your testimony. Any questions from committee members? Thank you very much.
SAL ANNUNZIATO: Thank you, Representative.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Richard Holton, representing the Hartford Police Union.
RICHARD HOLTON: Good afternoon, Representative Dargan and the members of the Public Safety and Security Committee. My name is Richard Holton, I'm a Sergeant with the Hartford Police Department and have been a sergeant for the past 16 years. And I also am the President of the Hartford Police Union.
I've come to you before in the past a couple of years of testifying sentencing bills in favor of raising the mandatory minimums on individuals who assault police officers. I'm here again today asking you to pass this legislation once more. Each day our police officers, men and women, across the country and state, kiss their wives and husbands and their children goodbye, not knowing if they'll ever come back home that day. And society, to date, has become more violent and more prevalent to assault law enforcement officers.
According to the most recent Department of Justice statistics, there's an average of 53 to 60,000 police officers assaulted a year in this country. In 2011, there were 68 officers murdered by gunfire in the line of duty. That's a 15 percent increase from 2010 where there were 59 officers murdered by gunfire in the country. The rates of officers assaulted throughout the country averages 10 assaults per 100 sworn officers. In Hartford alone, the capitol city, over the last two years, there's been a 90 -- an average of 93 percent of the officers engage in field work have been assaulted in the course of their duties. To date, there have been 14 officers killed in the line of duty throughout this country.
The courts usually, in the state of Connecticut, by my experience are more likely not to prosecute these cases depending on the severity of the assault or lack of something on their part. And most of my members believe and it's perception that if they report an assault or charge individuals with assault, it won't be prosecuted. And to date, police officers are the most pervasive victims in this country where, since 2000-2011, there have been 697,000 police officers assaulted in the line of duty.
I'd like to talk about two officers in our department that have been shot in the line of duty recently, in '09 and '10, Officer RayJohn and Officer Bonder. Within a nine-month period, I had to go visit those officers and their family at the hospitals and look at the anguish on their face, as well as a female officer that was assaulted by a career criminal where she had her nose broken in a violent attack in the street.
When a person assaults a police officer, not only does it have an effect on that individual psyche itself, but also has a rippling effect throughout the department and their family and the community we serve. Our members are expected to confront and address the members of society who wish to do harm, resistant, cruel, brutal, and sadistic, and have violent tendencies. And when those individuals assault this very fabric that we entrust to keep us safe, there needs to be a message sent to them that that's not acceptable.
We believe it's the role of our lawmakers to provide additional deterrents to those individuals in society who resist these efforts, not to make examples of them, but to hold them accountable for their actions. The officer that I talked about that was assaulted where her nose was broken, the guy was a career criminal.
The court never notified the officer that his case was coming up. They gave him 18 months, less than what the statute calls for that's on the books now. And the officer was never afforded the opportunity to have a victim impact statement or present her side to the court. She'll forever -- affected by this because every time her nose bleeds, she'll be reminded of this assault. I thank you for your time and I'll take any questions at this time.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Richard.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thank you. Thank you for coming up, Officer. Could you give us a definition of assault. I mean if someone pushes a police officer, is that assault? Or if they spit on a police officer, is that assault?
RICHARD HOLTON: To -- to answer your question, when someone puts their hands on a police officer, a push or a shove, that's not really considered an assault unless there's an injury because of that action.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Okay.
RICHARD HOLTON: Spitting is or throwing an object at an officer, it could be bleach, it could be noxious liquid, it could be anything that could cause -- we've had cases when it was first brought up a couple years ago in the Department of Corrections Commission testified, they face those type of assaults every day with semen, feces, spit. Someone that has TB or has a communicable disease --
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Right.
RICHARD HOLTON: -- and we don't the effect of that until they actually get tested if they're affected by it or not. So there's sometimes it could not have an immediate effect, but it could have a long term effect. But assault would be defined as basically causing injury or harm to an individual.
REP. GUGLIELMO: So you're talking about real serious --
RICHARD HOLTON: Yeah, we're not talking about something minor. I know when we did the research a couple years ago, New Jersey has as law on the books that the ORL did, it was first proposed by Representative Robles, that there's levels of assault and there's levels of charges where a more serious assault has a higher level of mandatory minimum.
Where a more minor assault where if you push the officer, you punch the officer, and he's got a bruise on his chin, that's less than the mandatory minimum is, it's a reduce. It's still a felony charge, but it's not a 2-year minimum, it's like an 18-month minimum and there's a percentage where they have to do like 80 percent of the time.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: One final question, would the union be open to a lower mandatory sentence than the two years or is that pretty much something that you -- you focused in on and want to retain?
RICHARD HOLTON: No, we -- we would definitely be willing to sit down and discuss and look at options. We did that last year when it -- when it passed through your committee and went to Judiciary. But then at Judiciary, they were looking at options, and we came up with a myriad of options. And obviously they still have the AR option too if they've never been in trouble before.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Right.
RICHARD HOLTON: But, you know, if you happen to take a conscious effort to assault a police officer who is trying to do their job, there's some responsibility for your action.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: No, I agree.
RICHARD HOLTON: And -- and to just dismiss that and to go back to what the civilian that was testifying before Gregg and he talked about police officers being held to a higher standard, then the people who assault them should be held to a higher standard also. It cuts both ways.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: No, I agree with that. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further -
REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just had a quick question. I noticed in the -- in the bill it actually defines some of the assaults and throwing of hurling things at police officers. And I come from a family of police officers, so I respect what you guys are coming from. I had a question, would this pertain to perhaps during riot situations or other large altercations where they're throwing rocks or -- or other things at police officers? Do you foresee this bill, you know, being used to punish those who have done that as well?
RICHARD HOLTON: Well, I would say that if -- if the person can be identified as the person who threw the object and did injury to the police officer, yes. But in a riotous situation, usually the police are geared up, they have their riot helmets on, their shields, and most of the time any individuals that engage in that activity is charged with, you know, inciting a riot. And sometimes it's hard to prove who threw what in those situations. So if you can identify the perpetrator, yes, we would say that bill -- this bill would take effect on that.
REP. DAVIS: Yeah, because we -- we see many of times that a lot of the times that someone who's participating in these activities are not really held to a very high standard for their actions that they take. And the ability to use a minimum sentence on them may deter some from being involved in violent group activities such as riots and other -- other things that can put policemen in harm when they're trying to enforce the law and public safety. So thank you very much for your testimony today. I appreciate it.
RICHARD HOLTON: Yeah, and in the statute, we're not saying that the court doesn't have the discretion to go anywhere they want in the -- in the years of sentencing, they can have the sliding scale. So we're not saying you have to -- it has to be this, it has to be five years, but they can go anywhere between those, whatever the bill establishes as a sliding scale and they can use it as leverage in bargaining.
And most of the times what I've seen in court cases when an officer has charged an individual with assault on police, a drug charge, and a gun charge, they're going to drop the assault charge down to an interfering charge or (inaudible) dismiss it and go with the drug and the gun charge, the more serious felony offenses. But it's still, you have to look at it separately. That's still an overt act on the people that are charged with keeping the public safe.
REP. DAVIS: So would you say that this could be an effective tool to get people to plead on other serious charges such as drug offenses or other activities and use this as, if you get charged with this and thusly convicted, then you will be serving a minimum of two years or whatever the minimum sentence eventually is put into place. Could it be an effective tool for law enforcement to get them to -- to perhaps give information on other activities or something along those lines?
RICHARD HOLTON: Absolutely, but we'd still want some sort of, you know, if -- if they cooperate, and the bill could be designed that, hey, they cooperated with the investigation or they pled to this charge. They're still going to have to do some time for assaulting the officer, they still have to be their -- responsibility for their actions, but it may be lessened based on that.
REP. DAVIS: I fully agree, and I'd like to see them held as accountable as possible. If the minimum sentence is necessary, then maybe that's something we need to move forward with. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? I know, Richard, that we have some laws on the books that protect people dealing with victim's advocates with some issues that referencing domestic violence. We also have issues dealing -- laws on the books dealing with law enforcement with police brutality, but we don't have anything to protect law enforcement when the actual case comes up.
And I know you mention it might not be a high profile case, but any assault on a police officer should be high profile. And I know that the criticism has been referenced in the State's Attorney's Office that the local department might not be aware of when that case is going forward. So individuals from the local or the state police could actually be there when that case is being heard. So I appreciate you coming forward with some suggestions to us today.
RICHARD HOLTON: Thank you. And I'd just like to mention on Senate Bill No. 63 when the civilian testified about, you know, the drug testing issue, just to give you some information on that, the Hartford Police Union and the City of Hartford have in their collective bargaining agreement that they do do random drug testing. And they do have reasonable, you know, reasonable suspicion, they do testing. So there are departments out there that have that and they are held to that standard.
So it's not an issue of its running rampant with police departments and these agencies and these cities that employ police officers aren't taking that affirmative approach to make sure their officers aren't under the influence while they're out in the performance of their duties. And we also like to say we support Senate Bill 195. The one thing we run into in the City of Hartford based on our volume of robberies and burglaries, we do seize evidence, the court, some of the defense attorneys want to see the actual item.
So that's really an unnecessary burden on the department and these agencies to hold onto that item when it's only like an iPhone or a phone that can be returned to the individual on the recovery, and a photograph taken of it. They want to actual have the tangible property to manipulate and feel it which is just a tactic by the attorney in the end. So I think that bill is cumbersome on -- the statute the way it is written now, I think if you up that number, it would help out the police departments and the towns and the cities.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much. Further questions from any committee members? Thank you very much for your testimony.
RICHARD HOLTON: Thank you for your time, sir.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Bruce Marcus.
BRUCE MARCUS: Good afternoon and I thank you, Representative Dargan and Senator Hartley and the Public Safety Committee. I'm here -- my name is Bruce Marcus, I'm a resident of Glastonbury. I'm here to speak in favor of S.B. 61, AN ACT EXEMPTING AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS USING HANDHELD RADIOS FROM THE PROHIBITION that was written into the cell phone law in 2005. Let me give you a little background on myself. I'm a graduate of the University of Hartford from 1965.
I've been involved in public safety communications for 43 years. And the fact that Matt Reed is one of my clients here, the chief that just left. And we do a lot of public safety communications. I've been a ham radio operator for 39 years. And the original motor vehicle statute used to exempt us against the prohibition of using radios while in motion.
Amateurs serve the public through SKYWARN, all the -- all the things you see on TV when all these talking heads are talking about the storms and they're telling you how the trees are and what -- where the things are coming down around you are coming from the hams that are SKYWARN spotters of which I am and have been for years. In fact, we are involved with the Hartford marathon, various parades, and various public service operations.
And we've been exempted in previous legislation and we've gotten caught up and confused in the new cellular legislation. And to that effect also some of our people that we serve that have two-way radios, mobile two-way radios with a handheld microphone are sometimes confused with the people with the distracted driving law.
And we've had incidents where hams have gotten citations because the officer couldn't discriminate, he didn't see it and doesn't understand the difference. That's an education process as well as we need a legislative process to exempt us. So I myself drive a 2002 Tahoe with 260,000 miles on it. I have six microphones at my disposal in the car. I've never had an accident. And I participated in the October 3, 1979, Windsor Locks tornado.
I happened to be driving both for my commercial reasons and my amateur reasons, and one of the hams at the National Guard facility at the airport called in on the amateur repeater that's on our tower in Box Mountain and Vernon, and he had no telephones, no communications, and this gentleman who still we know today operates for Algonquin Gas called and asked to be patched into the General at the Armory right around the corner here.
And the General asked him, he said, well, why didn't you call me on the phone? He says there are no phones. And what about the radios? He says there are no radios only my amateur radio, my little walkie-talkie here which is communicating through an amateur repeater. I'm also president of one of the largest radio clubs in the state that has repeaters throughout the whole state. You can take one of these little walkie-talkies and talk anywhere from I-84 to the Massachusetts border.
We're here during all the storms, we've been here all the time backing up all of the facilities. In fact, Jeff Fox, one of the announcers at Channel 61, is a ham. There are a lot of hams even in the state police all across our -- our working groups and to participate in amateur radio. So we think this bill is good, it's good for the community, and it would be good to get the clarification on push-to-talk mobile radios as well as the amateur handheld radios clarified in the state legislature. And we thank you for your support and listening to us. Any questions?
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much, Bruce.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Yes, thanks. Thanks for coming up, Bruce. Quick question, you've been active in all the storms, not you personally, but the ham operators like the last two that we had this past winter?
BRUCE MARCUS: I actually have been personally both professionally and on the amateur side. We support all the SKYWARN activities, all the stuff that the three National Weather Service Agencies get in Albany, Long Island, and Taunton, Massachusetts, have direct connections to us. When all the cell phones were down and all the power down, our amateur facilities were up and we were reporting live and actual information as to how many trees, the situation in Simsbury, all those things were known to us and factual.
I almost laughed at some of the stuff that the -- was being presented by some of the utility people because we knew more about how bad the damage was. I've been involved in the Wilkes-Barre flood, the Windsor Locks tornado, the ice storm, Gloria, all those times I've -- we've participated and supported all those activities.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: And have some ham operators actually been ticketed for using their radio?
BRUCE MARCUS: Yes, in fact, we were talking to one this morning on the way in here. And he had been ticketed by the Manchester police and he kept saying I paid the fine because I couldn't take the time off from work to explain it to the prosecutor. In past years we even had a Deputy Commissioner, Warren Thurnauer, both Thurnauer's involved with --
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: I know. Sure.
BRUCE MARCUS: You know Beau. His father was in at Motor Vehicles and he was one of the ones that has the law passed originally and we used to keep a copy of the law in the glove box in case we were stopped and we would just hand it to the officer. So you can -- you can go either way, but if somebody is distracted driving, he deserves to have a ticket.
But most of the time the officer doesn't understand and just sees the microphone and, oh, that guy is using his cell phone, we're going to pull him over and he's going to get a ticket. I can raise a little revenue here. But, you know, we usually don't argue. And we had another ham who works at ESPN who's been involved in the -- in the business for many years, also a professional, got ticketed in Enfield. And he went to court and he got it thrown out. I'm sure there's other instances, but I don't have a list.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Okay. And then one final thing, there was no opposition, I've been in and out but I've been here mostly, there was no opposition to this bill from any police organizations or public safety organizations?
BRUCE MARCUS: No, I talked to Chief Salvatore, who I also know, and Matt Reed, and they said it would be good to have clarification on the mobile radio aspect because we have like radar for transit districts, we have oil companies, we have people that serve the public that are using two-way radios all day. Can you imagine oil tankers pulling over in the middle of 84 so they can call (inaudible) what's my next job? Because you know they're afraid of getting a ticket.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Yeah.
BRUCE MARCUS: It would be crazy. And tow truck drivers, Matt Reed mentioned tow truck drivers, I forgot that one.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions from committee members? Thank you very much for your testimony.
BRUCE MARCUS: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Steven Dube.
STEVEN DUBE: Thanks very much, Representative Dargan, and Senators and Representatives, Senator Guglielmo. My name is Steve Dube and I'm from Tallen, Connecticut. I'm a federally-licensed amateur advanced class radio operator, and I have been for 24 years. I've operated both fixed and mobile radios since then, prior to that I was a CBer back since 1976 operating mobile and base station. Radio has been a great hobby for me and I've done it for quite a while.
During this time, I've had the opportunity to serve the public in a bunch of different ways with radio by participating in SKYWARN, as Bruce talked about earlier, working with (inaudible) in Taunton, and specifically a lot of the stuff I did was more during the thunderstorms in the summertime which pop up sporadically.
So when we're out driving home from work or on our way into work or on our errands during the course of the day, it's a good thing we're out there because we're able to -- when -- when they do call (inaudible) we can participate right away. I've also worked with communications for the MS Society bike races, both in Hartford and other towns, and many different walk-a-thons.
And prior to that, we used to use our radios, and we still do, we have what is known as a phone patch off the repeaters where we can actually access cell phone coverage and talk to police departments and report accidents and that sort of thing on the highway.
So I mean there's a lot of different organizations that are in amateur radio called ARES, the cert people, which you're probably familiar with, are also made up in many cases of hams. They utilize the ham frequencies because, as Bruce said and it's true, when everything else goes down, we're still up and running. That's what we do. So we're just trying to get some clarification so that we can practice the hobby and basically train by operating constantly on and about the course of the day.
And just as an anecdote, for all the years I've been out there, I've never had an accident. I don't know of anybody who's operating a radio has ever had a traffic accident. It's a whole different dynamic than talking with a cell phone. If you have a cell phone, you have to move your entire body in order to turn around to move. With an amateur and a handheld microphone, you're talking like this. And you can easily work your head around and get 360, or, you know, 180 degrees coverage with your eyes. So it's a whole different thing, and it's certainly much safer.
I don't know what experiences have been with public radio or -- I mean business radio or police, fire, whether they've ever had any problems, but I doubt it. It's a very safe method of operation -- mobile. That's it for me. Thank you very much for -- any questions or anything else --
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Steven.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thanks for coming up, Steve. Steve is one of my constituents. And I know you talked to me a little bit about possibly a technical change that would help. Could you -- could you tell the committee about that.
STEVEN DUBE: Right, a lot of us operate, as I side, a mobile radio which is tied with a microphone. The radio is mounted to the vehicle and like a taxi cab or a police radio, we use the microphone separately. And we'd like to just have wording reflecting that a mobile radio would be exempt from this prohibition also.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: If you could email that to me, Steve, then I'll make sure that the other committee members take a look at it too. Thank you for coming up.
STEVEN DUBE: I'll be glad to. Thank you.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: We have one more question, I think, for you.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yes, thanks, Steve. And perhaps I should've asked this to the folks before you, but so I don't really know too much about ham radios. So, yeah, you have the microphone, but how are you operating it? There must be something on the device where you are looking down, programming a number, or what -- what are you doing? How -- how are you, okay, I understand the speaking part of it.
STEVEN DUBE: We usually -- I would say almost all of the time operate on one repeater at a given time. So the radio is basically just -- we turn it on or it's already on when we start the car. We pick up the mike and talk while we're driving, and that's it.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So you're not dialing?
STEVEN DUBE: No.
SENATOR HARTLEY: It's not -- you're not searching for numbers, you are -- in other words, when you hit the on button, you are on the frequency that you're going to be communicating and there's no other options for you? Is that correct, or can you go to different frequencies?
STEVEN DUBE: We could change, sure, we could change the frequency while mobile, and you can do that from the handheld, from the microphone itself. It has a reset button and actually you can change and move back and forth. Kind of like the modern cars that are coming out today, my new Jeep Patriot, has buttons in the steering wheel where I can control the volume on the radio, our microphones do the same thing with the mobile units. And with the handhelds, everything is right here.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So you're not dialing a number, but you can effectively be changing frequencies, so you're talking to different entities or populations -- listening too?
STEVEN DUBE: Yeah, Once in a blue moon, really, most of the time when amateurs are talking on a repeater, it's -- it's like a bunch of us are getting together for a conversation -- a group conversation. We just happen to be driving when we do it.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And so is there a license that you get to be a ham operator?
STEVEN DUBE: Absolutely. We have to pass an exam with the FCC for each level of license class. I'm an advanced which meant I had to go through three levels to get there. These licenses involve -- or the exams involve both laws and operations, schedules, frequencies that we're allowed to use, what we can do and what we can't do legally. And also the electronics part of it and the radio part of it.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And so you don't use cell towers, you basically are using frequency bands, right?
SENATOR DUBE: Frequency bands and they have -- it's not a -- sometimes they're on a cell tower, but they are a repeater that's similar to a cell. The transmission from this radio goes in one frequency and it's already automatically set to another frequency to transmit. Same concept of police, fire, every other method of communication uses in order to expand the range of these very short-range devices by themselves. So we can talk all over, like Bruce said, all over the state of Connecticut of the 7-9 repeater in Vernon. We also crosslink into Taunton, Massachusetts, to talk to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for the weather nets that we do.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So you never go down, but if it's on a tower, could you theoretically be down on that?
STEVEN DUBE: Those could go down, yes. They have backup generators and there's a lot of different things that they do in order to ensure that they don't go down.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Who has backup generators? The tower?
STEVEN DUBE: Yeah, the owner of the repeater (inaudible)
SENATOR HARTLEY: But that would only be specific for the ham operators, not for the cell operator?
STEVEN DUBE: I can't address that, I don't have a repeater. But he could probably -- okay. He says we --
SENATOR HARTLEY: I heard that. For the record, you've been down one hour since 1971.
STEVEN DUBE: Right. The other side of ham radio is the fixed radio at -- at your house.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Which is a ham, right?
STEVEN DUBE: And there's also -- people will use those sometimes in a mobile situation where they're on a frequency or in a band plan that allows them to transmit throughout the United States or worldwide without the use of a repeater.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Now do you know how other states treat ham operators with regard to an exemption for handheld device?
STEVEN DUBE: Anecdotally, I don't know the specific states, but I have heard that there were several others that have done so -- they have basically given us that exclusion.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So are they handheld versus the majority or is it the majority that allow ham -- ham operators to be exempt?
STEVEN DUBE: I don't know, but I can get you that answer.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Okay. But I think maybe our LCO folks will help us on that issue. Thanks. And then the other thing is do you know -- what is this population that we're talking about? How many ham operators are there in the state? Do -- do you know that?
STEVEN DUBE: 10,000.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So that's 10,000 people who'd be on the road who can speak on a --
STEVEN DUBE: Maybe yes, maybe no. There's a wide variety of what we do. Not everybody who is a ham goes mobile with it, but there's quite a few. An entire class of radio licensing is based on the mobile communications.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And amongst yourselves, is there anything that you have done to identify, you talk about fatalities or accidents where a ham might be involved, do you have any statistics on that?
STEVEN DUBE: No, zero.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Thanks so much. I'm just trying to understand this whole area.
STEVEN DUBE: It's an exciting hobby.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yeah.
STEVEN DUBE: And it's growing actually. I thought with the advent of the internet, we'd shrink and die. But if anything, it's actually expanding.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
REP. DARGAN: Further -- we have one other question or comment anyways. I -- you know with all this new technology out there, and I'm just amazed that ham operators haven't been down more so than the new telecommunications that we have out there that seems to go down in major storms whether it's cell phone use or whatever that it's out there, and I found it interesting that how you said, how you ham operators talk to one another and get together.
It's similar to when Senator Hartley is at a rock concert and she's in a mosh pit and she's in there, so I guess there's a correlation between ham operators and Senator Hartley and mosh pits and rock concerts. So thank you very much for your testimony.
SENATOR HARTLEY: I lost you there Mr. Chairman, but I don't think it's very good. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: The next presenter is Lisamarie Fontana who is President of Local 387, the (inaudible) Corrections employees. She's not here. We'll go back to her.
Next is Lori Pelletier. I don't see her either.
Next presenter is Andy Matthews, President of the Connecticut State Police Union.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Good afternoon, Senator Hartley, Representative Dargan. My name is Andrew Matthews, I'm the President of the Connecticut State Police and I'm also a Sergeant with the State Police. We represent approximately 1,028 troopers, sergeants, and master sergeants. We recognize that we would not be here today if it were not for your unwavering support in the past for public safety and trooper safety.
We're here to speak against Governor's Bill 32 which would remove the mandate of the 1,248 sworn troopers, allows for an unlimited voluntary auxiliary program, and would only require the Commissioner of the State Police to submit a staffing report every two years beginning in 2014.
Just want to start with a few legislative history quotes from 1998 when Connecticut General Statute 29-4 was passed. Our former Lieutenant Governor, then Senator Sullivan, stated, every day in Connecticut there are troopers who whether on the highways or in the resident trooper program, put their lives and their careers on the line for us. And sadly in recent years, we have not kept our commitment to them, nor the public safety of our communities and our highways.
Also in part, Senator Crisco stated in part, think this is an outstanding piece of legislation, and I commend both sides of the aisle and the Governor's office for making this a reality. And also in part of Representative Karen at the time stated this is -- this is our attempt to make Connecticut a safer place, to make it a safer environment for the state police who work on the streets. This is an attempt on the part of the General Assembly to give them their due, to give them their protection, and to make Connecticut safe.
Also a quick comment from Governor Malloy himself in September of 2010, stated in part while adding a cost to budget is difficult, I refuse to place a dollar value on the safety and well being of Connecticut residents.
Connecticut State Police Union recognize these are difficult financial times. However, when considering cuts, we should pause and give consideration that the primary goal and function of government is to preserve life and property. Ensuring that there are adequate staffing levels within the state police is critical to the protection of public safety. The reality is that when agencies, whether it's local, state, or federal governments, attempt to reduce their budgets, it increases the potential for injury and or death and also increases the potential for civil litigation.
In 1998, Connecticut General Statute 29-4 which mandates 1,248 troopers became law with the unanimous support of the Legislature, 35 to zero in the Senate, 145 to zero in the House. This was in part due to the -- to the brutal domestic violence murder of Heather Messenger in Chaplan, Connecticut. Miss Messenger was pregnant with twins, had barricaded herself in her bedroom with her five-year-old son to secure refuge from her violent husband and frantically called 9-1-1 for assistance. However, due to the lack of proper staffing, the nearest trooper was approximately 18 minutes away. Upon their arrival, Miss Messenger was dead.
The public rightfully expressed their outrage over the incident. And as a result, our Legislators called for a mandatory staffing level to protect the public. Now during these difficult times, the Governor is seeking to avoid properly staffing the state police. This bill will strip the Legislature of its ability to ensure the mandate and will allow the commissioner to individually determine an arbitrary number. The main purpose for enacting this statute was so that the Governor and the commissioner could not simply ignore the 1,248 mandate.
Ironically, last session we were here, a bill was passed and supported by the Governor's administration that increased the mandate for majors and the lieutenant colonels within the state police. Now we're here to decrease the number of lined patrols on the front lines.
Now -- we now argue that the 1,248 should be -- to argue that the 1,248 should be eliminated because the law is arbitrary, inflexible, or does not improve safety as short-sighted. If the statistics show in certain areas of Connecticut that crime has decreased, one reason may be because we actually tried to maintain the 1,248 troopers.
The point of the statutory mandate is to ensure the public is protected at all times and not to fluctuate based on political agendas. No one can predict when law enforcement is needed. In 2009, the Connecticut State Police employed 1,283 troopers. We currently have 1,080. Of that 1,080, only 1,022 are fit for service or ready for service. This is 168 troopers below the statutory mandate, 203 below the statutory -- or our high in 2009.
And moreover, in July of 2012, we will have 206 troopers eligible for retirement. In 2010, prior to the merger with three other agencies, our department budget for personal services, which includes staffing, was approximately $151 million. In 2011-2012 budget, all three agencies personal service item -- line item was $126 million.
In the fiscal year 2010-2011, the entire state budget was approximately $19 billion. Therefore the state police budget is approximately one-half of one percent of the overall state budget. This is a small price to pay for the safety, security and preservation of life and property.
Also currently there's a Governor's bill that we oppose, 5014, which now requests a budget for personal services of approximately $117 million, which is another $8.5 million reduction.
This committee is being asked to make a decision to reduce the long-standing minimum staffing levels of the state police personnel without an adequate study. Colonel Stebbins has reported -- reportedly done an in-house study without releasing the findings and has stated that there isn't a report. The State Police Union believes that an independent study by an impartial party concerning adequate staffing levels is warranted.
Without accurate and objective information, it is unfair for anyone to put the Public Safety Committee in a position to choose between a budget and public safety. Moreover, this bill would give the full and sole authority to the commissioner who is appointed by the Governor, to determine the proper staffing level which again is an imbalance against the rights of the Legislature, the general public, troopers and their families.
And our question is why -- why can't we wait -- why wait until 2014 to get a report? Why don't we do a study now and find out if that's the proper number. And in closing, the State Police Union understands, again, these are tough economic times. We've actually made suggestions which have been implemented to save hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars within our department. An attempt to remove a statutory mandate would clearly jeopardize public safety and trooper safety.
We should not wait for another Messenger case or the death or serious physical injury of a trooper before we admit that this is an impulsive decision and risk -- at the risk of a preventable tragedy. Our Connecticut Legislators, their constituents, state troopers, we all expect and deserve to be protected. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Andrew. Questions? I have one that I threw up to Colonel Stebbins and it's this, not speaking for the entire State Police Union because you have to go back to your membership, but if it was awkward that that study was implemented this year and we kept the statutory -- that at 1,248. And the study came back next year of 2013 that the trooper level should be at 1,080 or 1,050 or 1,350, I'm just trying to get what your comments might be to that idea anyways?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Thank you for the question. The State Police Union has always wanted to be part of the solution and participate, voicing the concerns of our membership and the public safety. And we would love to be part of a process. We were never asked to be. And actually when we did ask to be, we were told they wouldn't meet with us. So we would like to be part of it.
We think we have the boots on the ground so the men and women of our agency have vital information that would help determine what the accurate number should be. And -- and like the Senator said earlier, maybe it is a range, but we would love to be part of the process. We actually did some research and we found a study in the archives of the union, some information that was put together.
We also did our own study, brief study. We found that the state police agency, when a constabular has -- a local town has a constabular, constable program, for the local selectmen and mayors, we -- the state police actually puts a study together for staffing levels. And in that -- here's an example of the report, in the Colchester area, Troop K, one of our commanding officers of Troop K barracks at one time did a study and they used the Federal Bureau of Investigation data that indicates New England towns between 10,000 and 25,000 population, they use an average of 1.8 officers for every thousand residents.
Using the guidelines, it says that Colchester should have 27 officers. Ironically, if you run the numbers, the Connecticut State Police has approximately 700 troopers that are in uniform patrolling the streets in the 12 barracks that we have throughout the state. There's approximately 600,000 residents that we can, give or take a thousand or two, 600,000 residents that we service within our troop patrol areas. That is approximately 813 residents per trooper in a square mileage of 3,078 to be exact.
We cover 81 of the 169 towns in Connecticut, 57 of those 81 towns have a resident trooper program which has about 105 troopers and sergeants, which we all know is financially paid for by the towns, 70 percent of them, 100 percent of the overtime. The calculations that we did was, we found that there are 6,330 municipal police officers in the state of Connecticut. They protect and service about 3 million residents.
If you break that down, they cover about 465 residents per officer compared to the 813 officers that troopers cover. And they cover 88 towns and only about 2,400 square miles, which is about -- so what people don't understand, if we could really quickly give you an illustration, there's 12 troops around the state currently, they talked about merging some. At each troop, not for public dissemination in the public forum, but there's a certain number of troopers on patrol.
If you take like the Canaan area, there's 13 towns covered by a certain number of troopers. When you talk about a municipality, they have so many officers on duty at one time. In a troop we have a much larger area that we have to respond to. So response times is critical. I heard earlier Representative mention the Second Amendment and carrying your own firearm, that's well and good, that's afforded by the Constitution, we would much rather law enforcement make those decisions.
But the one thing that wasn't mentioned was that it's not always about carrying a firearm and using it for yourself. Minutes and seconds determine whether someone lives or dies. So having proper staffing levels and having troopers to be able to respond to the side of the road while your family has been ejected from a motor vehicle or has been involved in a motor vehicle accident or needs medical assistance by a trained professional, minutes and seconds could determine whether they're here enjoying life with you. So if we think that the merger, that this centralized dispatched center is a whole another issue that we think the Legislators should be aware of.
We have serious concerns about that too because as you're trying to say that we don't need 1,248 troopers, when you start to merge Troop A in Southbury, Troop L in Litchfield, and Troop B in North Canaan, it sounds good that you're going to save a lot of money by reducing troopers on the desk and you're going to do it without dispatchers, but essential what the troops that are being merged into Troop L become is essentially a substation, because you may not be processing prisoners and holding prisoners there if no one is there.
Our concerns are we don't want the lights out, we don't want the troops closed, the public depends on those in the north and the rural areas, and they need to be able to go to a place for -- that's safe for them and their families. I apologize for that long -- I tend to do that, but it's important, we want to get the message across.
REP. DARGAN: We -- we should also note that Andrew's not only in law enforcement, but he's a lawyer, so he can be somewhat long winded. I understand that.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Sorry, sir.
REP. DARGAN: Just a follow up on that, Andrew, I know that, you know, we don't have a county form of government or a sheriff form of government except for processors that we have in our judicial system. And those 81 towns that you talk about are from a geographic standpoint, cover a big amount of square miles. And the area that a trooper might cover in a residential community is pretty big compared to city police departments where they have people that work different territories within that different city.
Do you have any suggestions to us of how -- that we might have more exposure for the state police in those residential communities, because there's always the argument up here between the big cities and small cities, whether it's with education, the ECS formula, or the issue of law enforcement that the small communities should have their own local police departments. And we always get into those for arguments up here. So I'm just trying to get your comments on -- on that.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: It's a great question. I don't -- I don't tend to talk about things I'm not completely knowledgeable of. But what I do know is that if every town that we covered, the 81 towns, there's only 57 that have a resident trooper program. A lot of that has to do with -- it's financial burden to the local towns and taxpayers.
So if you -- if you required each town to have a resident trooper, that doesn't mean you always have a resident trooper on duty, because there's three shifts to cover. So a lot of this has to do, in our view, is transferring the financial burden to the local communities. If a town has -- if every town that had a resident trooper program decided they didn't want to have a resident trooper program, the state police would still have to cover it.
It's important for -- as a suggestion what we should do if there's a study, and we would love to be a part of that, is -- is to illustrate that if you merge troops, you need more people on patrol. We already believe that we need more people on patrol to give adequate police coverage for both trooper safety and public safety. If you did a study, I think you would find -- if someone said to us we're going to double the staffing levels on patrol and we're going to merge troops and try to do more with less, that might work.
And we'd love to give suggestions. But to say we're going to merge troops, people are going to travel from the farthest point in North Canaan, North Canaan in the northwest corner, is 253 square miles. I won't say the number of people patrolling for the safety of our membership and the public, but if the trooper that is covering (inaudible) to Hartland line gets no rest and a domestic or a DWI on a Friday or Saturday night, and they're driving to Litchfield, 35 miles away, that takes a lot of time especially if it's in the winter and it's back roads, except for Route 8, it takes a lot of time to process a prisoner.
Meanwhile, now your patrol area is covered by less people. And if two or three troopers get involved in an arrest or an incident, and domestics we need backup, so if you have an arrest by two or three simultaneously, your troop area is not adequately covered in our view. So that was short compared to what I wanted to do.
REP. DARGAN: Just one last question, I asked Colonel Stebbins and I wanted to get your comments about it. Over the years this legislative body has put numerous mandates on the Department of Public Safety, but along those -- as we increase those mandates, the monies really haven't followed the mandates, so I'm just trying to get your comments on -- on that.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Another great question. When there's a lot of federal grant money offered to the states for law enforcement, when there's local money, plenty of local money and there's enough for resident trooper programs and such, that's what we've experienced in the past when there's plenty of money. The problem comes when there's not a lot of federal money or local money. And what it does is it shifts the burden back to the state. You're right. I thought you might ask that question.
Under 29-5, we have the resident trooper program which is mandated. Under 29-7 many subsections, we have scientific services which is mandated, major crime, homeland security, joint terrorism task force, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, narcotics, auto theft, gangs, sex offenders units, computer crimes units. Those are mandates. Also we just had a new mandate which is the missing persons unit.
As time has gone on, it's our view and we think it's -- it's a positive step for public safety, is as there's been a need for more public safety, the government, the Legislature, has rightfully assigned those duties to the state police. And -- but the problem is, like Representative Orange mentioned earlier when the Colonel was here, is the hope of the Legislature always was, back in 1998, was -- it was the response time to Messenger's home, Miss Messenger's home, that brought it to life.
We increased our units, we increased our mandates, we increased our personnel assigned to those units to make sure we were meeting your goals. I think what we missed was, we didn't continue to evaluate and increase the patrol staffing level, that's our view. And back in 1998, the union attempted to propose, at that time to Commissioner Spada, a memorandum of understanding guaranteeing a certain minimum of patrol staffing levels.
They mentioned earlier -- the Colonel mentioned earlier that we're meeting our minimum staffing levels. If this committee was aware of what the minimum staffing levels were, I would guess, in my view, you would be probably outraged. So we attempted to negotiate this and make sure that we secured a minimum staffing level at the troop that we felt was appropriate with them and a relationship, and they refused to do that. So we think that that's important.
And I also would mention as times get worse, the studies that have been mentioned about were, I believe, were from 2000 - 2009. During the majority of that period of time, the economy was good. When the economy is good, there's not a lot of people wanting to commit crimes. As the economy gets worse, crime goes up. If you watch the news every night, you see an NBC 30 van was shot at. Luckily no one was injured. We have -- throughout our state we've had shootings in the workplaces, we've had shootings in our -- throughout our country in the school systems.
The state police does not have a school resource officer program anymore. They removed the 16 positions and put them back on patrol. That's disturbing to us. Also the Hartford Current front page, it says AWOL inmates. There's 11,000 inmates since 1970 that have either walked away from halfway houses or skipped parole. These are 11,000 potential state police case numbers.
The question is, as we decrease 203 troopers, someone must ask what were those 203 troopers doing back in 19 -- 2009, just two or three years ago, that isn't -- who's doing it now? You have less personnel, more responsibility, not enough people. Sorry, that was long winded again, but I -- I think it's important for you to know.
REP. DARGAN: No, that's okay, Andy.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. And thanks for being with us, Andy.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And so just for my own edification, how many troopers do you have with you today? Raise your hand.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Former, retired troopers, current troopers, we have two.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Just two.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Three, sorry.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Okay. All right. Well, thanks all of you for being with us as we try to walk through this in a very truly rational way. So, Andy, I just want to start off by saying that I would feel much safer with your troopers watching over us than, with all due respect, Representative Mikutel who's not here anymore, his expertise as it were known. There's a whole section in this bill about the auxiliary force which they are apparently now trying to delete the -- the ratio, if you will. What is the number of auxiliary police volunteers that you are currently working with?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am. Good question. We currently have 65 approximately auxiliary troopers, 49 of those 65 perform patrol functions. The others are administrative, purely administrative, run errands for the state police and help in other ways.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So the suggestion, the way we see it, is what you're anticipating is growing the auxiliary troop to perhaps do more patrol, is that a fair statement?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yeah, see we actually, yes, ma'am, I'm sorry. We were a little concerned when we saw that because by striking that provision, that portion of the statute --
SENATOR HARTLEY: The cap?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yeah, it's -- basically what it says now is that, and I don't have it in front of me, essentially what it means -- it says is you can't have -- you can have up to double the current sworn staff of state troopers. So you could have approximately 2,160 auxiliaries. The only reason in our view you would need to strike that is if for some reason, you know, you were going to have more than 2,160.
We're told that that's not the case, it was strictly linked to the removal of the 1,248 number and that if you remove the 1,248, then you don't need to have double. But with some other bills that are out there, the union's concern is as municipal police officers attempt to get misdemeanor arrest powers, the -- the bill currently says on duty, but we heard testimony from some local -- a local chief that said when they're officers are off duty from a certain town and they're at the mall in another town, if they're going to act, they require that they carry their gun and badge.
I hope I didn't -- maybe I misunderstood it, but our concern is, you know, are we about to try -- it's just a concern of ours, are we going to make our municipal police officers auxiliary sworn, you know, raise your hand if you're an auxiliary trooper off duty providing a service to the state. That's -- that's a concern of ours. We don't know that that's somewhere, you know, it's free service, but we don't know that that's a position the state would want to be in for liability purposes.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yeah, I absolutely agree with you that this muddling the lines between local police and the -- their powers, that -- I don't know how you go there rationally. But anyway, with regard to the auxiliary force, I -- these are former retired state troopers by and large?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: No, ma'am, the majority -- the auxiliary program is common men and women that have other employment that they -- most of them have never been police officers before. It used to be that an auxiliary would be a breeding ground for troopers coming into service. Over the years, I think the longest serving auxiliary trooper we have has served 55 years.
So we have -- I don't think they've run a training course, CLEA standards require them to have similar training as state troopers. I think it's been a financial issue in the past. I don't think they've run a class in, I -- I don't want to say a number, but it's -- I think it's been over 20 years. I could be wrong, but somewhere in that area. So we have people that are still providing a service, they'll come into a Friday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, they get into a marked cruiser, they go out and they handle motor vehicles that need assistance on the side of the road or maybe there's extra lights needed, you know, in the Hartford area.
I think off the top of my head where they go and back up troopers because there's not enough coverage, because we're short staffed on patrol, to give extra lights which can save our troopers and public safety lives too, slow traffic down. So they -- they're friends of ours, we -- we value them being around because we recognize as troopers that if they weren't there, the -- the state -- the agency wouldn't hire more troopers to make sure we were safe. So we -- we value the relationship we have with them.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So they basically are primarily doing administrative kinds of tasks, but there are some that are on this patrol detail, if you will?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am, 49 -- 49 of them actually have patrol functions throughout the state, 16 of them do administrative functions.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Oh, so it's just the opposite.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So I mean I would think that they're probably more poised to do administrative support as opposed to patrol support?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Over the years I think as the 16 that used to provide patrol functions, some of those 16 actually used to be on patrol. But they got to a point and recognized that it was probably safer for them and everyone else that they did administrative duties rather than patrol.
SENATOR HARTLEY: -- right.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So -- so let me ask you this because it's really all about resources. I don't think anybody can argue the public safety piece of this, is there any option that would help to address the efficiencies, which is basically I think the heart and soul of this bill, on the administrative side so as to get your qualified, trained personnel boots on the ground where all the action is?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: If I understood your question correctly, we need to expedite our hiring process. I know that's something the agency has worked on over the years and they've gotten much more proficient at it. But we need to -- like our current list expires June 3rd of 2012. We -- we are looking to put a class of 80 in sometime in May or June before the list expires. However, we're not -- we're not in the process, I don't believe, of starting a new process. We should do that so that we have continuous classes. And I mean it's simple math.
A new recruit state police trooper in the academy makes $47,717. That's -- that's pennies to, you know, as people leave in retirement or have long-term disability injuries or retire for whatever other reason, we need to replenish those numbers, and it costs the state less money than it would if those senior people stayed.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Right, I get that.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: I hope I answered your question.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yeah, yeah, you know -- you know, I'm trying to address this problem on both sides. Clearly, you know, I think we're all together on the public safety issue and for also our troopers as well as, you know, the people who are depending upon them. If the study was done, who do you think would be a fair entity to do that study?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: I think honestly it wouldn't be fair to the Legislature for the union to say who should do the study. It should be an impartial party, I think, personnel selected by the Legislature. Someone that you trust, someone that's knowledgeable and has experience in law enforcement and would actually listen to both sides and take the information and be independent about it and fair, because that's what you should rely on.
As much as we try to come here because we respect our relationship with you, with the Legislators, and we -- we take seriously our responsibility to give you accurate information and we try to do our best at that, it should never be from one side or the other because it -- it would give the appearance that someone was pushing their cause. Truly our -- our position, we just had an incident at the casino the other night, at Foxwoods. We've been -- the union has been addressing lack of staffing levels for many years there. It is -- it is about money.
We had a -- it's on TMZ, it was a video, one of our troopers saw there was a huge melee. We had asked for additional troopers, we're being told, this is the information we're receiving, additional troopers to be there on overtime, but it would cost too much. So they brought down the staffing level and low and behold there was a melee. One of our troopers was subduing an individual and making an arrest and got two broken ribs.
They called for backup, it was between 10 and 15 minutes before 10 additional uniformed troopers came from the Troop E Montville Barracks area to be able to respond to the casino and find the location where people were. By the time they got there, the majority of it was over. So it's not just that, it's the airport, it's our specialized units that have been far understaffed for many years.
People talk about overtime, it -- it's -- there's not enough staff there to do the job, so, you know, the job has got to get done. When people are victims of crimes, you need -- time is of the essence to solve the crimes so that people aren't victimized further.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yeah, and that was a very instructive example that you're sharing with us, Andy. Could you just very briefly talk about the off duty scenario of a trooper.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am. Currently and contractually we have off duty use of our cruisers. I know this has been --
SENATOR HARTLEY: So every trooper has a vehicle 24/7?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am. You're either assigned a marked cruiser or you have a soft car if you're in a specialized unit. The majority of our troopers are in cruisers. Off duty they're required, we have 1,401 pages of an operations manual, our rules and regs, we require off duty to stop and assist the public. Many times, I speak personally, and for all of our troopers actively make stops off duty.
The problem is either they dispatch calls in, most of our troopers have MDTs in their cruisers, they're computers and they can document stuff. So when you call in, historically, many of our troopers either aren't saying I'm on or off duty and they're in a troop area where they're not familiar with their call numbers, so they're just checking off that they're on duty or are members are not checking off of whether they're on or off duty and it doesn't go down as a statistic for off-duty activity.
Personally on March 6th of 2011, I was driving to the airport at 6:00 in the morning, the troop called out in a one-car rollover on I-84 with an ejection. They predict -- they thought that it was a fatal. I arrived on scene within 30 seconds, I was there within 30 seconds, and began CPR on the individual. About three or four minutes later another trooper arrived on patrol and did CPR with me and the person is alive today.
I -- I hate to guess what would have happened if that individual -- if I wasn't off duty in my cruiser. And there are many, many other examples. Our troopers off duties have saved lives, run into burning buildings, homes, to save children and families. They've saved children drowning in ponds. It's a critical service to the public. It saves the taxpayers millions of dollars to have off-duty troopers in their cruiser serving the public.
It just takes one incident where someone files litigation against the state that costs millions of dollars. And I know there's been some -- some public concern about troopers being off duty in their cruisers. You don't know how many times we've written tickets off duty for reckless operators on the highway. And again Representative Orange mentioned earlier, if you're going down the highway and you don't see a lot of troopers, it's because we're, like Representative Dargan mentioned, we're not a county government.
We're the state police, like some states have sheriffs and state police. We are sheriff and state police combined. We cover the rural areas, towns that don't have police departments, and the highways. So we're not just the highway patrol. So off-duty activity is critical to the taxpayers. We give -- we save lives, we save the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money when it comes to our off-duty activity, and we don't get paid for it, ma'am. Typically we don't put in for it.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And you're mandated to stop?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am, by the rules and reg's of the department. So if, for example, hypothetically, during tough times there was talk of possibly taking the off-duty use of our cruisers away, say that was a suggestion, that would be detrimental to the taxpayers, the public and our troopers. Because, again, countless times our troopers on duty have keyed the mike and asked for assistance and often it's off-duty troopers coming to back them up.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And your mandate to respond, is that just on the highways or does that -- that's the whole gamut?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: We have a reg in our department, ma'am, that says within a two-hour period, we call it a signal one or a T-one, it's a test, every member of our agency can be activated within a two-hour period to be fully uniformed and equipped in our cars at any location for the taxpayers. So that's why we equipped our troopers with cruisers or off-duty vehicles and equipment to be anywhere the state needs us within a two-hour period. And they have activated us before on that.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And you mentioned, Andy, there's 206 individuals who are eligible for retirement. When are you going to know who is actually retired?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: That's a good question. I believe last year we were over 80 people that retired. We don't, you know, people can retire, you know, someone had 20 years of service and they wanted to put in their papers to retire this week. We wouldn't know until Human Resources was actually notified that they intended to retire.
My only point to bringing up the 206 was that a class that graduated 20 years ago, in 1992, in July of '92, will now be eligible. I think we're roughly around 120 or 130 that are eligible to leave now. After the 40 left in October due to the SEBAC agreement, so I think it's -- it's, I might be off by one or two, but 206 is the number for July of this year that are eligible to retire. Now whether they do or not, I -- I don't know.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And then the 180 you've got, it's really 122, so the others are like worker's comp or some kind of a --
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am. Right now we have 31 troopers that are on light duty. The majority of those troopers were injured in the line of duty and are trying to recover to get back to full capacity. Some may not be able to ever go back to full capacity, and they're trying to work with their doctors to see if that's actually the case.
We have 21 troopers on leave. The majority of those are on leave for military service, serving our country. And we have 12 on workman's comp actively right now. I think it's also important to just give you some quick numbers. Majors, we've increased in the last two years 5 major positions, we went from 7 to 12.
We've lost 5 captains, we lost 18 lieutenants, we were at 47 in 2009, we are currently at 29 lieutenants. We had lost 2 master sergeants, we have lot 28 sergeant positions, and we've lost 158 troopers. Those are some pretty alarming statistics in our view.
SENATOR HARTLEY: If you could share those numbers with the committee.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Did you give us written testimony?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am.
SENATOR HARTLEY: You did. Okay.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: If you need it again, I can --
SENATOR HARTLEY: Is that in your written testimony? Somehow I --
ANDREW MATTHEWS: No, I'll make sure you have it.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yeah, make sure that's included.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, ma'am.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And then -- so when the very brief moment that we were up to staffing, at blink, what was the overtime like?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: In 2009, I could try -- we, can you actually, my assistant, John Kolosky, he -- we sent -- as soon as Representative Miner asked that at the Appropriations hearing, we sent an email and cc'd them in on it. We'll work with you to try to get the information, but much like yourselves, when we ask information of the agency, we -- sometimes we don't get it.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So you don't have that?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: So we'll work hard to try to get that for you.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Okay. Well, we'll ask too. Veronica, if we could just make a note (inaudible) follow up on that question. To find out what the overtime was like when we were up to staffing that (inaudible). Thank you very much, Mr. Chair --
ANDREW MATTHEWS: That would be 2009, ma'am, 2009 we were at 1,283, in 2009.
REP. DARGAN: Representative Rovero.
REP. ROVERO: Mr. Matthews, I think you have to realize that this building I call the house of confusion. And the reason I say that is yesterday I was here and they had several people testify on domestic violence. And we all realize that when domestic violence occurs it's either with drugs or alcohol and we need someone responding immediately.
Then today they say it's the biggest crowd they've ever had here at the capitol, and you have someone trying to pass laws that say that now we're going to keep the bars open until 1:00 in the morning, we're going to make it cheaper for you to drink so you can drink more. Then I sit here in a testimony and I listen to where people are saying we ought to cut down on staffing. You talk about being confused.
You can't curtail domestic violence and take police officers off the streets. You can't let people drink until 2:00 in the morning and say look it we're going to give you booze at a cheaper price so you can drink more, and then on the other hand say we have enough troopers. So I'm very confused and I'm trying to sort all of this so I can make a good judgment in the future.
But I think we ought to change the name of this, Mr. Chairman, is to the house of confusion because that's just how I feel over the testimony I've read for the last two days. And I thank you for your testimony and I got to say as being someone that worked with budgets in a small town for years, you hear all the time about the police budget is too high until they have an emergency or need some service. Then spend all you want.
So you hate to say this, but if someone has had any crime in their family at all, they realize the value of the state police as well as your local police departments. And all I can say to you and any other trooper or policeman is thank you for your work and keep up the good work.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Representative.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Great observation. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Representative.
REP. NICASTRO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, sir.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Good afternoon.
REP. NICASTRO: Thank you for your service to start with.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Thank you.
REP. NICASTRO: I apologize, I've been running around like everybody today going to three different meetings. We've all been going from place to place so we're walking in, we miss half the testimony, we don't know what was said. I apologize for that. But the other day we were talking about this when we were in committee.
We were talking about the auxiliary where local police would now instead of just having powers of arrest for felonies, they could also have powers of arrest for misdemeanors -- they could arrest somebody for misdemeanor outside of their own city provided they were on duty. I thought about that on the way home then I started getting concerned. Have municipalities been informed about this?
As an example, if I'm a police officer and -- a Bristol police officer, and I'm traveling to Hartford and I see something going down in Plainville, and I stop and I go to make that arrest and I get hurt, who's going to pay for it? Is Bristol going to have to pay for my injuries when I'm out sick or does Plainville step in?
And then better still if one of my -- if I had to use some strength on the person that I'm apprehending, and that person files suit, does it go to Bristol or does it go to the town that I did it in? And I don't think anybody has even thought about that.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Great observation. We testified earlier to that, two weeks ago. It's a -- it's a serious concern. It was suggested that it's a turf war based on our testimony. It's not a turf war, it's --
REP. NICASTRO: No.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: -- we're concerned about not only liability for the state, if the state were to allow that to happen, but we -- we were concerned about liability, workman's comp. I think it was Avon PD recently had an incident where a police officer that hadn't been on long was injured in their town on duty. They were out of work for a long period of time, they needed to replace that officer, they were terminated from employment. I mean it happens while you're on duty too.
REP. NICASTRO: Right.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: So why would we subject off duty trooper -- police officers to other jurisdictions. There was a chief of police that mentioned they don't -- they're not concerned about their officers, they'll control their officers and tell them what they can and can't do off duty. It's not your officers that you're worried about.
If every municipal police officer in the state had jurisdiction for municipal arrests, it's the officers from another jurisdiction, not every agency has the same standard of hiring practices. No offense, but you -- if I'm a chief, I don't know that I want police officers from other towns doing activities in my town that I'm ultimately responsible for.
One of the other big factors that we didn't mention that day that we think is important for the Legislature to know, is it happened in Providence, the City of Providence, Rhode Island. The chief of police's son, off duty in civilian clothes, was shot and killed because when police officers are off duty and they are involved in a high risk felony situation, they only know what they're trained. They take their gun out, they identify themselves to the suspect as a police officer, and they tell them to put their weapon down.
Well, when the police show up and they don't know that it's an off-duty police officer and they say drop your gun, police officers aren't trained to drop their guns. So when they turn, they're shot by their -- it's friendly fire, they're shot by their own. That's another big concern we have is if there were to happen, we'd have people off duty -- we have to train our troops when you get out off duty and you're in a jeans and a t-shirt put on your raid jacket, have something that's readily identifying you as a trooper for many different reasons, but one is friendly fire.
So we're -- those -- we were just offering that as our suggestion and some -- some things for you to think about and consider. But, you know, people suggested it was turf war and that's --
REP. NICASTRO: I never -- quite frankly, officer, I never assumed it as a turf war. I chaired the Bristol Police Commission for 15 years. I didn't look at it like that, I'm thinking about if my officer, for the sake of argument, is in another town and gets hurt, okay, and he gets hurt, you know, who's going to pay for that? Is Bristol stuck paying for that? Do they have to take care of -- now we got to bring in another officer because he's out on disability and it happened in a different town.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: And who's going to pay the overtime expense to replace that officer for their --
REP. NICASTRO: I have problems with that, quite frankly.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: I wasn't suggesting either that, it was someone that testified that said turf war. I mean we're proud to be your state police, you have a state police, we're proud to be your state police, and the standards for a state trooper, in our view, is higher than it is for a lot of municipalities. And also there's another point, our state troopers are in the academy for six months and then they're six weeks FTO. During that six-month period of time, from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed, we're training and we're in class --
REP. NICASTRO: That's -- excuse me, that's -- I had done some checking on that. If I read it right, state police, when they go to state police school, they're like training from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, is that correct?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, we're in the classroom all day and all night. And I form -- I was a municipal -- I was in the municipal training academy before I became a trooper. And I distinctly remember being in class from like 8:00 in the morning until 5:00 and then the rest of the night was to myself. So if you're in training, and I think it was 16 weeks at the time, I don't know what it is now.
A VOICE: I think it's like 18.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Eighteen weeks maybe. They said 26, but I think that's their academy and their FTO combined after they graduate. I could be wrong, but the majority of the time I was, you know, after hours I was free to do what I needed to do. So our training is intense, it's for six months, and again to go through a background process or a selection process in the state police was something very rigorous that I thought I'd never experience in my lifetime. And I'm proud to say that I'm a state trooper. So, you know, we're proud to be your state police. I know people take offense to that, but we're proud to be --
REP. NICASTRO: Why? You should be proud.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: We are. We are. And we provide a service to the public, again, off duty I can't tell you how many countless hours our men and women of our agency provide to the state free of service -- free of charge off duty. If you had to properly staff -- if you didn't have off-duty troopers out there, you would paying -- you'd have a budget twice of what you have to properly staff the agency.
REP. NICASTRO: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions from committee members? Just a couple of comments, you mention about the two tribes and I know that the two tribes do have their own private police, Mohegans I think go through POST and the Mashantucket Pequot's are federally recognized. They're -- I'm told that the downsize of the troopers that have been there at the casino unit, they're there 24/7 too, I know that.
And I know that, you know, there's been discussions between the administration and the tribe to try to cut down on their cost. The costs that were incurred through the state, and they thought they could adequately handle on -- on their tribal community the, you know, what goes on there. They understand that there is still state police there.
Back to the question about 1,248, I know that -- that the state police and some other state employees come underneath what we consider hazardous duty. And I also understand that the Malloy Administration has entered into a new agreement with, you know, all the unions as far as retirement goes which does not impact hazardous duty pay.
So somebody -- a trooper comes on at 21 or 22, he or she could retire at 42 or after 20 years, they're not impacted like the other state employees where that age has gone up dramatically and there's been, you know, increased cost that -- that the troopers have incorporated too into their own health care. And that always I think has been the problem probably with getting to that minimum mandatory of that 1,248 or what it was before, because of that retirement that we have that's -- that's different than other state employees.
But the understanding that we give you hazardous duty pay because you have a hazardous job. And in the past there's been a number of troopers that have left either to go work in the insurance industry or other industry or go work in another law enforcement community. And I've noticed either with some local law enforcement communities that they're staying around because there's no opportunity in the law enforcement field or in the insurance field. So do you have any data that troopers are staying around longer than they used to?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yes, sir. We -- we can help put that together, but just to answer one of the comments, now under the SEBAC agreement, which our members did ratify, a lot of people don't know that, that we ratified the pension, healthcare and retiree health care portion of the SEBAC agreement in that there's a new tier three. For hazardous duty troopers from July 1st of last year through the future, you -- you have an age requirement of 50 or 25 years of service. So that will require people to stay around longer.
REP. NICASTRO: I just wanted you to have the opportunity to bring that out.
ANDREW MATTHEWS. No, that's perfect, I appreciate it. Through me a softball, I appreciate it. The -- the local communities are benefitting from people that retire with 20 years and go on to want to continue, like you said, in law enforcement. Those communities are benefitting because troopers are highly trained, qualified members of the state police and when they retire, a local constabulary most of the time picks them up and they don't have to send them really through the POST training academy again.
They go through some -- a background, a physical agility, and some other testing. But for the most part, you're -- you're exactly correct. It's now -- now it's 50 or 25 years of service. Yes, those that were hired before that are 20 years of service if they choose. I think to be completely honest with you, I think the economy has gotten so bad so that there's not a lot of jobs out there.
So when people that were used to leaving and going into the insurance field or some other occupation, it's not there anymore so maybe they will stay around longer. But we -- recently we've seen, in the last four or five years, we've seen people -- a lot of people do 20 years and leave shortly thereafter, somewhere between 22 and 25 years. But we can try to put that data together.
That would actually help in a study if there was an adequate study done, you could see through attrition who you're losing and who's staying. And as the economy gets worse, it's likely people will stay around longer than they originally anticipated.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Andy, for that. Further questions or comments? Senator.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Thank you, Andy. I know you've been there a long time.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Oh, I don't care. I enjoy it.
SENATOR HARTLEY: You said the off-duty troopers sometimes put in when they're off duty, so, I mean, in other words someone is off duty, that instance you shared with us, so you could put in for overtime is that --
ANDREW MATTHEWS: No, ma'am, I'm sorry. Maybe I misstated. I said we typically don't put.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Right.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: We do it for free service.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Don't -- typically you don't put in. But you have the option to put in for overtime? I mean tell me about --
ANDREW MATTHEWS: If an incident -- if we stop -- and I'll speak from personal experience, if we stop a motorist, a reckless motorist on the highway, and give them a speeding ticket, we're not putting in for 15 or 20 minutes that it takes us to do that, and that's frequent. Or stopping on the side of the road to sit with a disabled motorist in a hazardous position and it takes you 45 minutes depending on weather -- the weather conditions, road conditions. We don't put in for that stuff.
What might turn into overtime, to answer your question directly, is if we're off duty and we get a DWI arrest and patrols tied up and there's nobody available and we take the DWI arrest, take them to the troop and process them, and it takes you two, three hours, yeah, then typically in that situation you put in for overtime. But that doesn't happen all that often. And if there's proper staffing levels on duty that are freed up, what the supervisor will do is send patrol out that's on duty and then relieve you from the DWI.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Right. Okay. I just wanted to understand that.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Yeah.
SENATOR HARTLEY: All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? Andy, I just want to follow up so I'm clear on this matter, in referencing the 1,248, if you have had any conversation with the Governor's office and/or OPM since this came out?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Well, obviously we -- and I respect their position on -- I understand. We tried to set up a meeting with them. It was scheduled and then we were told that they wouldn't meet -- maybe it was just my name that was mentioned that threw them off a little, no, just trying to lighten the mood, is they wouldn't meet with us. And I respect that. Their -- their position was is it was because there's pending litigation. So I respect their position on that, I know how that works.
But we, for the record, have always been a union that's open to open dialogue and trying to resolve matters rather than litigating. It costs taxpayers and the union a lot of money to litigate issues. So it's not always necessary.
REP. DARGAN: Okay. We'll see as the Co-Chairs what we could do to facilitate that. And just one final question, when is the next court case referencing the litigation, the 1,248?
ANDREW MATTHEWS: I don't know that it's on the docket, sir, for a scheduled date. I know it's before the Appellate Court.
REP. DARGAN: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you for coming in.
ANDREW MATTHEWS: Sorry for talking so much.
REP. DARGAN: No, that's fine. That's fine.
It's on the list is, I apologize for this because Lisamarie Fontana, the Council of AFSCME Corrections, Brian Anderson was supposedly supposed to be in that spot. So I apologize for that.
BRIAN ANDERSON: Good afternoon, Chairman Dargan, Chairman Hartley, members of the Public Safety Committee. I'm Brian Anderson, I'm a lobbyist for AFSCME Council 4, a union of 35,000 public and private employees. And I'm speaking here in the place of Lisamarie Fontana, who is one of our correction officers and employee president. She was here, but she had to go to work.
So I'm just fill in with the message she wanted to delivery. And that is that Council 4 supports House Bill 5247, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR ASSAULT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, EMERGENCY MEDICAL, PUBLIC TRANSIT OR HEALTHCARE PERSONNEL. This bill will establish a two-year mandatory minimum penalty for assault a correction officer or employee. Over the years there have been numerous serious assaults on correction officers.
We believe this bill will add a meaningful deterrent power and send a clear message to inmates who contemplated assaulting an officer that you will serve an additional two years of prison if you attack a correction officer or employee. Often our correction employees face the situation where there might be one officer to a room with up to 120 inmates. And you can imagine the situation where an officer might get into an altercation and get hit and go down in a room with that many inmates when they're alone. Things could turn deadly pretty quickly. So we think that this warranted.
I'd also like to point out the program review has -- has said for years that the corrections workforce is seriously understaffed. We have situations where not all of the corrections officers have up-to-date radios. So any tool that our guys can get to be safer, we think is a good idea. This bill also extends the protection to specified Department of Children and Families, the Judicial Department employees who are also our members. They regularly come up threat and experience numerous assaults over the years. We urge you to vote for this bill, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Brian, for that testimony. Questions from committee members? Hearing none, thank you very much, Brian.
BRIAN ANDERSON: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: The next presenter is Jake McGuigan.
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Good afternoon, Representative Dargan, Senator Hartley, and members of the committee. My name is Jake McGuigan, I'm Director of Government Relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. I'm here speaking in support of S.B. 196. I am from the National Shooting Sports Foundation which is the Newtown-based, Newtown, Connecticut, based trade association for the firearms industry.
We represent over 500 FFLs located here in Connecticut as well as the manufacturers known as Colt, Mossberg, and Ruger, and also Cabela's which is right up the road from here. They just recently announced fourth quarter record profits, so the firearms industry is still very strong here in Connecticut.
The firearms industry's economic impact in Connecticut is $1.3 billion. It supports over 5,400 jobs in the state, and pays $81 million in state taxes. But currently Connecticut retailers are some of the most heavily regulated firearms dealers in the nation. Retailers are required to comply with some of the nation's more stringent set of rules and regulations.
The current law requires retailers to duplicate their efforts and keep a separate bound book for the sale of handguns. There is really no justifiable reason to keep -- to have them keep this information when there are already federal requirements to keep a bound book for all firearms transactions as well as holding on to a form 4473 for 20 years.
Connecticut's firearms retailers are not the cause of criminal misuse of firearms. The financial burden that is created by this requirement and others make it increasingly more difficult for retailers to continue their livelihood, create jobs and revenue for the state.
In closing, the National Shooting Sports Foundation would ask you to support Senate Bill 196 and allow small businesses that Connecticut depends on for revenue to work efficient. And just an aside, Representative Yaccarino, I know you asked a question on the gun shows on a previous bill. All federally licensed firearm dealers have to conduct background checks no matter where that occurs, whether it's at a gun show or on the premises of their business. But also in Connecticut even if there is a private party transaction, they call the state police and the firearms -- and a background check is conducted by the state police. Thank you.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank -- that you. I just wanted for my own knowledge to know that. I figured they had to, but if there was a computer there it would be an easier way to do it. Mossberg is in my town, I visit them on a regular basis and I'm a member of the sportsman's club. I do have a question, now in Connecticut we have the two -- two books, in other states is it just federal law?
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Yeah, Connecticut is kind of an outlier on the -- on this extra bound book that they have, the state bound book. They basically, retailers will have the federal bound book, or an A&D book, where they take -- where they take in a firearm and then they obviously sell it or transfer it, that goes into the book. And then you keep the background check forms which contains all the owners information for 20 years on the premises.
And then if you close or go out of business, that gets sent to the FBI in West Virginia. So that is an extra requirement, that -- that bound book which really doesn't contain any more information that what's contained on the federal form. There is one section they include on the form for occupation, but I don't know what that really accomplishes from the state standpoint.
REP. YACCARINO: It makes -- it makes sense what you're proposing. You really have two sets of books, basically.
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Basically we have two sets of books where you can make, you know, more errors and -- and you're less efficient in -- in conducting, you know, doing the regular paperwork and recording it. And at the same time, this bill has been up here four or five years in a row, and there is a section added that the Department -- Division of State Police and Emergency Services do have access to the federal records. They -- that's in there, but they have that access anyway. None of our retailers are going to -- if -- if there's a criminal investigation, shield any -- any information from law enforcement on that.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions? Senator.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. Thanks for being with us today. So, yeah, but they were also suggesting that the local PD have the ability to also avail that record.
JAKE MCGUIGAN: I mean if -- if they wanted to add that amendment in there, I don't see any objection from the retailers. Once again if there is a criminal investigation occurring, providing that information is not a problem.
SENATOR HARTLEY: So then the federal bound book is maintained by -- by the state department?
JAKE MCGUIGAN: No, the federal -- the -- all of our firearms retailers come under the jurisdiction of the ATF, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. So when there's an inspection, the ATF will come in and they inspect the bound book, they inspect the 4473s and all of that information. So they -- they're the ones that have quote the jurisdiction and look over the retailers for any violations.
SENATOR HARTLEY: And -- and you mentioned -- so the one exception -- they're identical except for the area of occupation?
JAKE MCGUIGAN: There is a section on the state form that -- that asks for an individual's occupation, which I'm still not sure why that's on there or why -- why anyone would need to -- to know that specific information. But that is the only extra piece of information that you could not glean from the federal forms or from the 4473.
SENATOR HARTLEY: You said Connecticut is an outlier, tell -- tell me the facts of the --.
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Each -- each state has different -- either state level law being basically across the country, but each state has their own set of rules and regulations for -- for retailers. But in no other state do they have an actual bound book just like -- basically it is a carbon copy of the A&D book, which is the federal book. So they're not doing -- for some reason Connecticut has this extra requirement that is not seen in any other states.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Nobody else? Not one?
JAKE MCGUIGAN: No. There are -- there are different licensing requirements when you go to various states, but I have not seen a bound book in other states.
SENATOR HARLTEY: And the federal -- what does A&D stand for?
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Acquisition and disposition. Basically when you acquire a firearm into your retail --
SENATOR HARTLEY: So that's the official --
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Yes.
SENATOR HARTLEY: -- title of this book?
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Correct.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further questions? Jake, as you're aware, you know, last year we did get the bill out of the committee. And, you know, we thought it was going to get through, so any help that you could give or your members do to educate other Legislators, that would be very helpful to us.
JAKE MCGUIGAN: We will do that as well. And it would be a tremendous help to Cabela's, like I said, right up the road. They, you know, spend a lot of time and if you ever have gone in there and seen the -- the traffic through their main counter, it's -- it's a lot of work on them to do extra paperwork that's really not necessary.
REP. DARGAN: Appreciate your comments. Any other comments from committee members? Thank you very much.
JAKE MCGUIGAN: Thank you, sir.
REP. DARGAN: The next speaker is getting up before I even recognize him. So we'll (inaudible) good seeing you, Bob, Bob Crook.
ROBERT CROOK: Good seeing you. Senator Hartley, Representative Dargan, my name is Bob Crook, I'm Executive Director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. I'm testifying on three bills today. All three of them are timesavers, effort savers, cost savers to the CSP, Connecticut State Police, municipal and the citizens.
Let me -- let me tell you about the bound books since Jake just got finished with that. This requirement was on the books for a -- on the -- in the statutes for a long time. And it took a very astute state police officer to find it. And about 10, 15 years ago we started keeping double books which didn't make sense. This -- this bill has been around for a long time, like the other two I'm going to talk about.
The only thing I disagree with -- with Jake on and with the police chiefs is I don't see any reason why they have to see the bound book, the federal bound book. If they want information on who owns guns, it's all on the computer. They want to know information on who's buying guns, that's entered immediately into the computers.
So having more police officers come in and check the stores just doesn't seem reasonable to me. We have a special division of the state police that does that and we have the ATF. So I -- what I would recommend is keep the -- keep the local police out. They don't have the knowledge, they don't have the capability and it's a harassment to the gun store owner.
The major bill I want to testify on is 5245, and this is standardization of uniform criteria for a temporary state permit issued by the municipalities. This bill has been around several times also. The original proposal was made about ten years ago by a member of the firearms board, and we've been working on it ever since.
There is no uniform criteria for the issuance of a temporary state permit by municipalities. And particularly it deals with identification. And if this bill had passed some years ago, currently the DPS is mandating the following documentation for permits to carry a pistol or revolver on renewal, not on initial -- initial issuance, but on renewal.
So this November when I go down and get my permit renewed, I'm going to have to bring a birth -- well, let me read it to you. Applicants must provide that they are legally and lawfully in the United States such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or Naturalization papers.
Legal alien residents must provide alien registration numbers and a 90-day proof of residency. This is not in the law. And one of the problems we have with the state police is that they don't -- they don't write regulations. We have one set of regulations and that's on assault weapons which they were forced into when the assault weapon bill passed in the early '90s.
Other agencies I deal with all have regulations and come to the public to see what the problems are. State police does not do that. What they do is they write policy, they put it out sometimes over the -- over the net. Gun owners are thereby surprised every time CSP does something. So passage of the -- of this bill would standardize the residency criteria at the local level and would negate this new criteria that's going to cause me to take a birth certificate or my passport to the state police.
The major thing, though, is the supplemental forms. You've heard all about them, letters of reference, psychiatric evaluations, health certificates, they're asking for all of this stuff. An applicant's submission for a permit in these towns, not all the towns do it, is faced with supplying this data under intimidation or not receiving a permit. That's not what the state is all about or should be all about.
We shouldn't have to be intimidated into giving -- giving information to -- to people. We don't know what they're doing with it. This -- I can think of no other instance where privacy rights are so violated. I just cannot. We think -- it says in the law that you conduct investigation, and an investigation is appropriate. Fishing expeditions, however, and invading privacy rights are not.
We also question -- or I've had questions to me, what happens to the data that they collect? What do they do with it? Do they store it in some computer somewhere to use at a future date and for what purpose? So not only are they invading our privacy, they're also getting data that we don't even know whether they have it or not, and that's not the American way either. By the way, I would support Representative Sampson's amendment to this bill. I think it's better language than what I had.
The third bill is 5246. Some time ago, in 1995, a new interpretation found out by the same state police officer who happens to work at Hoffman's right now, he found that permit holders were going to other locations other than their home office or home business and conducting business at those locations. Four dealers were arrested at a show in Stamford. None were convicted and the cases were dismissed on a previous enforcement procedures. But the new interpretation by the state police was then adopted.
What happens now in some cases is if you have a permit to sell pistols and revolvers in Waterbury and you want to go to a gun show in Durham, what you have to do is since you paid your $200 for the permit in Waterbury, now going to the Town of Durham, and these are only -- I don't know that Durham is doing this, but some of the towns were, now you have to pay a $200 fee to operate in Durham.
I know of no other commodity that you -- you buy a permit to sell and then you have to buy a permit to sell in every town that you go to. But that's -- so what we're trying to do is we're trying to correct that. And I think if you read my -- another thing, it's printed on a state form.
Now the town issues it based upon zoning basically because you have to have a pistol permit or a permit -- or a certificate of eligibility in order to get it, so the town issues this, so the town is really interested in zoning. But to have that applicable to only one town is -- for $200 is just outrageous. So what we're saying is we're using federal criteria, what we're saying is any meeting or exhibition of an organized collector's group or any gun show shall be deemed an extension of the room, store or place described in the permit.
So what we're saying is don't charge us fees that are not applicable and that are outrageous just to sell guns. And that concludes my testimony.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Robert. Questions at all? You get off scott-free.
ROBERT CROOK: No questions? All right.
REP. DARGAN: I don't think so. Thank you, Robert.
ROBERT CROOK: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Next presenter is Kevin Borgnis.
KEVIN HOLIAN-BORGNIS: Good afternoon, Senator Hartley, Representative Dargan, members of the Public Safety and Security Administration -- Committee, sorry. My name is Kevin Borgnis, I'm Secretary and founding member of the Connecticut Citizen's Defense League. I'm also a licensed amateur radio operator. I'm here in support of Senate Bill 61, Senate Bill 196, and House Bill 5245, but I'll only be speaking on 5245.
Connecticut is one of the eleven may-issue states, meaning a permit to carry, may be -- may or may not be issued even if a background check comes back clean. Connecticut requires local issuing authorities to define suitability, but doesn't define what suitability is and is thus left up to towns to determine their own criteria.
State law has -- has given the Commissioner of Emergency Service and Public Protection the power to define the form of the application. And as other have said, towns are adding their own requirements such as three letters of reference, waivers so they can look into your credit and dental records, and indemnification if you have civil action in the event that you're fired because the police have talked to your employer.
Most of these are -- are not required to determine who has suitability to carry a firearm, but may be -- in 2009, a declaratory ruling by the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners stated that applications for permits to carry not be denied for missing information above and beyond what is required by the state law. And that concurred with a 1968 Attorney General Opinion that said that clear and obvious intent of the General Assembly was to provide a uniform application for statewide use by all issuing authorities.
The authority to prescribe such a form having been granted to the Commissioner of Public Safety, a municipal police department may not alter, change or add to the prescribed form, no matter how laudable or intent or motive for doing so.
Despite this evidence, towns and cities are still requiring additional information and denying applications not providing it. If an applicant appeals, they have to wait more than a year before a hearing with the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners can be heard, for a simple administrative denial. This -- this legislation is a good start, but it lacks teeth to prevent further abuse. Thank you for your time.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Kevin, for coming to testify. Questions from any committee members? Hearing none, thank you very much. It's probably good that all the good, law-abiding gun citizens had come to testify, maybe they should be in front of other committees and Legislators for them to ask any questions. Thank you very much.
Next presenter is John Sturmer.
JOHN STURMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee. I'm here to submit testimony and indicate my full support for the following bills. Senate Bill 196, House Bill 5096, House Bill 5245, and House Bill No. 5246. In particular, I want to talk about House Bill No. 5245, AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER.
I suggest that it be amended to included an enforcement provision. This bill in part alters an existing statute that standardized the application across the state. Issuing authorities have already been asked by the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners not to add or alter the existing application, yet many departments did not comply. Clearly this statute is needed to require them to. However, both the existing statute and the proposed statute require the issuing authority to render a decision and notify the applicant within eight weeks.
I'm a pistol instructor who teaches the NRA Basic Pistol class, and my students routinely follow up with me on the status of their permits. This statutory requirement is routinely ignored by local police who violate both the letter and the spirit of the law with impunity. One example is my hometown of Stratford. In Stratford you have to make an appointment to get your fingerprints taken. It takes three to four months to get an appointment. After the appointment, it takes an additional 16 weeks to have a decision on the application.
I have another student who applied in Stamford in July of 2011. He was approved in January of 2012, six months later. Westford is telling applicants six months. They're blaming the backlog on -- they're blaming a backlog at the State Police Bureau of Identification. The Board of Firearms Permit Examiners currently has a ten month calendar for appeals. Many of these appeals are due to delays and are never heard because the permit is issued prior to the hearing date. What I find interesting in contrast to all of this is that Bridgeport, one of the largest departments in the state with one of the heaviest workloads, is able to turn these applications around in six weeks.
Even with the delay by the state, they're taking 10 to 12, but the applications are processed and investigated before the results from the state come back. And as soon as they come back clean, the application is approved. If they can do it, why can't others? Well, the answer to that question is quite simple and I'll refer to the gentleman from the state police union who testified before indicating he'd obviously rather have law enforcement have guns than citizens.
Some issuing authorities simply don't want to issue pistol permits. If this bill is passed and police department chooses to ignore it, what will happen? We need to codify that in the law. I recommend financial sanctions for every delayed application, whether approved or not, and for every denied application that is overturned on appeal. All fees collected by both the police and DPS should be forfeited specifically to fund the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners to fund their operation.
Connecticut Constitution says the right of every citizen to keep -- sorry, the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves or the state is codified in our state constitution. Can you imagine if a police department made a criminal defendant wait for four months to see an attorney and another four months to have an arraignment while they sat in jail. There would -- there would be outrage over that.
The right to bear arms is no less important than the right to a fair and speedy trial. Once again I strongly support this bill. I hope this committee will find it prudent to pass it, and if possible to amend it to include some sort of an enforcement position -- provision so that all the police can't, with impunity, violate the wishes of this legislation. Thank you for your time.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, John. Thank you for coming to testify. Questions from any committee members? Okay. Thank you very much. The next presenter is Richard Burgess. Richard Burgess or George Burgess or Ellen Burgess. Am I pronouncing it right? Oh, okay.
Jonathon Hardy is next.
JONATHAN HARDY: Good afternoon, my name is Jonathan Hardy. I've actually seen most of you guys quite a bit last year, this is getting pretty good. I'm here to testify on two very different sides of legislation. I'll go with the -- more the quick one first.
The bill that we have ahead of us for S.B. 61, an act exempting radio operators. I am the district emergency coordinator that covers the responsibility for the amateur radio operators throughout region three. If you're familiar with the way the state of Connecticut map is, I cover region three, the 42 towns. I have 170 volunteers that are already licensed and that also have offices within various state and local municipalities.
Without getting too deep into this, the only point I want to make is we do need to separate -- make this amateur radio, if there is that amendment that was discussed earlier put in as a provision, simply because it's -- it doesn't matter what the radio is whether it's handheld, whether it's mounted in the car. The way we communicate with them is actually identical and we don't want to have that interpretation made up at the curb side.
The various organizations we work with, I actually as a volunteer have an office with the State of Connecticut at the region three facility, that is a state veteran's hospital in Rocky Hill. The State has recognized the value of the service that we do provide our communities.
At the same time, I also have a desk that is only 40 feet from the Governor's desk right around the corner at the Armory here. And that purpose is so that we can facilitate this information between hospitals, local municipalities, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and community emergency response teams, or CERT teams. Oh, and the National Weather Service which we do provide a lot of live weather data for them.
A couple of questions that were brought up earlier I just wanted to mention in regards to our method of communication. We're actually listening more than 95 percent of the time, 98 percent of the time and transmitting only a very small portion of it. So we're not constantly yacking on our microphones as we're driving down the road. That being said, when the issue was brought up about -- too bad Senator Hartley isn't here, the issue about programming radios.
They're pre-programmed, most of them nowadays are so technical we use our laptop computers. We're not exactly driving down 91 with our laptop programming it as we're kind of going along. I think that would scare a lot of people. So it's just a matter of hitting one button like a preset on the radio in your vehicle, we're on that other frequency and we're good to go. That's all I have on the -- the amateur radio side. If you have any questions, I can -- I can go a little bit further on that?
I'm going to briefly hit on three of the firearms bills that are ahead of us. One of them would be S.B. -- Senate Bill 196, this again is the recording of the long book. I had a situation about -- about a year ago where we purchased a firearm at a gun show and there was that other book. Something wasn't logged in properly and I got a call if I could go in and refill out everything and make it legible and everything else.
I had to take a half a day off of work to go do this, to comply with the statute. And there's already the exact same thing is already being recorded on a federal level. Only somebody from the department of redundancy department would really want this sort of thing to kind of continue. It took a lot of time off from my day, and it was actually really ridiculous.
House Bill 5246, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PERMIT TO SELL PISTOLS AND REVOLVERS, being at shows and clubs. Growing up in this neighborhood, the guns that I see at these types of shows on collector's guilds are not going to (inaudible) committing crime in the streets of Hartford. We're talking long-arms that could be well over 100 years old, something pre-World War II in pistol fashion, not exactly -- and the ammunition is not always readily available for that.
So it's not exactly a gang-banger special when they can't get the ammunition for them in the first place. And to clarify some stuff on Mr. Yaccarino, Representative Yaccarino's points earlier, there is a background check that is done at these shows, two different ways. There is a background check that is done first by computer if that person is equipped just like at a gun shop. But unfortunately that almost doesn't even matter because they also have to follow up with a telephone call.
The reason why is, my background in data management, is they don't tie it to my permit id, it's tied to my last name. My last name is common, with the last name of Hardy, so I do have some family members that probably soiled my name for me in the past. But every single time I have to wait on the phone for them to still go through and make that phone call. And whether I buy at a gun shop or whether I buy at a fair or an organization of collectors, I still have to go through that process regardless.
Last but not least, House Bill 5245. This is actually a department that I'm very well versed in. I run an organization called Connecticut Pistol Permit Issues, no surprise here. What we do is we help people navigate the myriad of steps that they have to go through at the local level. Unfortunately, it has not gotten better even after the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners had issued a declaratory ruling saying not to deviate too far from this.
Case in point, if you're a minority or a woman especially, you have to go through a lot more steps when you're a law abiding citizens because of the fact that a lot of the towns that have a higher percentage of minorities. Hartford is a great example. I spoke to Detective Johnson in Hartford about the insane policies they have. They break the law, Statute 29-28 the moment you walk in the door. They will not give you a permit application. You guys already created legislation for this.
Detective Johnson has told me personally he doesn't care what the legislation is, we have a policy, this is what we're going to abide by. And it only goes downhill from there. He tells people it's going to take 8 to 12 months to sit there and get your permit. He doesn't say why. It has nothing to do with the delays. He says it's going to take that long to do that.
In addition to that, there -- there's a whole lot of extra requirements that -- that I'm really concerned about that the Legislature puts forward into statutes and the towns do not need to abide by and they say we don't care. There's -- there's no bite behind it. They don't have to abide by them.
I've given you a table that you can go down at your -- at your leisure. all the towns that I've collected data from. You'll notice that I do one thing that not a lot of gun groups, so to speak, do. If the town is an A and they do follow the rules, I give you that data as well. I give you all the honest data that I received from more than one-third of the towns. Some of these requirements that we're going through right now that are absolutely scary are extra fees. Last I knew, the Legislature was the one that gave us these extra fees.
We've got towns that are charging extra fees for what they call fingerprint processing. That's what the background check -- we already have legislation for that. They're adding extra fees for that. Three letters of reference, we've already discussed. A lot of my -- towns -- if you go online to my website and look at that data, that's where it gets really scary I give you guys the actual paperwork that I get from the towns. They're asking people to sign waivers and if you lose your job, if you have issues with your tenant authority, whatever, so be it. We don't care. That's why we want you to sign a waiver so you can't sue us if that happens.
Last but not least, some of the other requirements that they do that really kind of concern me are the issues I went through with my background check. They're not -- this legislation does not tell a local issuing authority they cannot do an investigation into your background, it just simply says we want them to follow the uniform criteria that you set before them.
In my case, they interviewed my neighbors. One of my neighbors has known me for 25 years. The other character witness that they used was a convicted felon. She that month was convicted of prostitution and drug possession. That was one of the witnesses they interviewed for my permit. Absolute insanity. I've got many other questions as far as all this extra fees, like I said I already mentioned the extra requirements.
But just keep in mind that former Detective Matthews, I used to see him, I go to every firearms board hearing for the last year and-a-half, I've been to every single one of them. And a comment that he made about not wanting citizens to have a firearm is a very strong indicator of the problem we have with the system. That's the same mindset that is following at the state level when it comes to back -- fingerprints, because there's no reason for that delay. It's electronic. You can scan it, send it, it comes back to you 48 hours later.
Plus we're mandated to have those -- those background checks processed efficiently and they don't do that. The other problem it shows is that same mindset from law enforcement is very pervasive when it gets down to the local level, creating all these extra requirements that I have shown you in my handout in my -- my written testimony. I ask that you -- that we give this some teeth.
Florida had similar problems that Connecticut had and they actually said we're going to go one step further. We're going to have a form of preemption that says if the town doesn't abide by your statutes, they will get fined. And something -- I'm -- I'm not saying we're going to obviously go that far, but it's proof that there's only one way to solve this problem. We need uniform criteria. I can be available for any questions.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you very much for your testimony, Jonathan. Are there any questions from committee members? Hearing none, thank you very much.
REP. DARGAN: I need to step out to go vote quickly, but the next presenter is Andrew Bloom.
ANDREW BLOOM: Good afternoon.
A VOICE: Good afternoon, sir.
ANDREW BLOOM: Chairman Hartley and Representatives and Senators, members of the Public Safety Committee. My name is Andrew Bloom. I am President of the Bail Association of Connecticut. I am a bail bondsman for 15 years, bail enforcement agent. My team and my other company, I'm President of Fugitive Recovery Agency, Incorporated. It is responsible for over 5,000 defendants being returned to the jurisdiction of the court over the -- my career.
And I'm here in opposition as well as support for Raised Bill 5093. I have concerns with the language in it. It's a revision of the bill that was passed -- a portion of a bill that was passed last year. And in this they are requiring the surety to pay for the return of the defendant back to the jurisdiction of the state in all cases otherwise we would not be relieved of liability.
It was brought to my attention that the state has felt that we're using this as a loophole to return -- to get released from bonds that the people have left the jurisdiction of the state and been arrested in other states and other jurisdictions, which is not so.
In many cases, the state has chosen not to extradite anyone. They don't put anyone in the NCIC as an extraditable warrant. And then the person goes across state lines into, for instance, Massachusetts, which is not a violation of their bail contract, which is not a violation of the court's provisions of their bail, not in violation of their condition of release to leave the state.
So it's not a bad business decision on the bail bonds company that they happen to cross the state line. They get arrested in another state and the other -- they commit another crime in another state, and the State of Connecticut chooses not to extradite them and then holds us responsible looking for us to pay for them because they've been arrested in another state like it's our fault and claiming that it was our bad business decision that allowed them to cross into Massachusetts and be arrested. It simply isn't so.
We return people to the jurisdiction of the state whenever we can. Just two weeks ago we had somebody who was non-extraditable who we went up to Maine, my company found them, detained him, but were told by the local police we could arrest him and bring him back because he was not extraditable. We contacted the state's attorney who was prosecuting him. He put him in NCIC as an extraditable warrant. We then in turn were allowed by the local police to return him to Connecticut and at our own cost returned him to the state of Connecticut, did not require the state to pay for it.
We're not asking the state to pay for all of the extradition of people, but we're also asking that we be allowed to do it ourselves and not be forced to pay the state's exorbitant costs of them extraditing, which in that particular case could have been 3 or $4,000 while I had the cost of two agents for a few hours to drive them back.
So again I'm not against it, but if there could be some language tweaked in it to say that we have the option, which we do in Taylor versus Taintor, to return the absconder back to the state of Connecticut. We already have that option if there could be language allowing us to do that ourselves and not require us to pay the state for them to do our job for us. That's --
REP. DARGAN: Thank you, Andrew.
REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you. Right now -- right now the process is you bail somebody out and then the process is you're responsible for that person. If that person disappear, they jump bail, that means that you as the bondsman you have to go after that person. I believe that (inaudible) you find out that that person is on jail.
So the process is, right now, and correct me if I'm not wrong, you send a notice to the Chief State's Attorney's Office and -- and if that person is not (inaudible) for years, that means that after six months they -- you're not responsible for the bond, right, for the bail after that?
ANDREW BLOOM: As of right now if somebody is incarcerated throughout our six month stay of execution, the state does not hold us responsible. If they are incarcerated through and past our six-month stay of execution, that's correct.
REP. GONZALEZ: So that means that after six months that person is going to be in jail for two years, you notified that that person is in jail, so that means that you're not responsible for the bail?
ANDREW BLOOM: Right.
REP. GONZALEZ: Now my question is most of the time when you have that kind of problem, does the state of Connecticut always, you know, bring those, you know, go after them or no or they have -- they can refuse if they want to?
ANDREW BLOOM: It's always been the state's opinion that, you know, or I've been told that it's always been the state's opinion that they would like to prosecute their people who have committed crimes in the state of Connecticut, but they don't always put their money where their mouth is.
As a matter of fact, the amount of people who have been extradited back to the state of Connecticut is so miniscule for the amount of people who have been arrested in other states, that committed crimes in Connecticut, absconded and left the state of Connecticut, that it's laughable to say that the state actually puts their money where their mouth is. The majority of people who are brought back to Connecticut who have absconded on a bail bond are brought back to bail -- bail bondsmen.
As a matter of fact, bail, surety bail and professional bail bondsmen, is the only form of pre-trial release that self-enforced if somebody misses or absconds -- or -- or violates his provisions. No one else self -- self enforces, they just rely on public safety to do it.
REP. GONZALEZ: So that -- that means that you -- if you decide to extradite a person, bring that person back, it's your expenses? The state doesn't have to get involved in this?
ANDREW BLOOM: Yes.
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. And you don't think that -- that -- that is a better idea if -- a better solution to a problem to put this fugitive in -- in NCIC and that way if they know where they are they can notify to the bail bonds company and you can go after them.
ANDREW BLOOM: That would be wonderful if they would put every defendant into NCIC and list the bail company who they say is responsible for this defendant, they list us in NCIC as being responsible for this defendant. So if somebody gets pulled over in Massachusetts or in Maine or in California, and they find out that this person is wanted by the state of Connecticut and XYZ bail bonds company, XYZ bail bonds company is contacted and offered the ability to come and get this person at our own cost.
And then if that would happen, we would happily go wherever it is and bring the person back if we could do it at our own cost. But to pay the state of Connecticut to do it, the state of Connecticut is government. Government spends tens of thousands of dollars on a hammer. So tell me they're going to -- they're going to cost-effectively bring somebody back to the state.
REP. GONZALEZ: So that -- so that means that -- let's say that you have a fugitive and the bail -- the bail is $5,000. If that person jump bail, that mean that you have to pay the court $2,500 if that person disappear, right?
ANDREW BLOOM: That's part of the compromise that the State of Connecticut has with the bonds company if it's paid timely.
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay.
ANDREW BLOOM: But if it's not paid timely, it's the full $5,000.
REP. GONZALEZ: So that means that -- that -- that you have to pay $2,500. But then the state go after that person and spend $10,000 bringing that person back. So that means instead of you paying $2,500 to the court (inaudible) now you end up paying $10,000 because that's what they want because those are the expenses, is that correct?
ANDREW BLOOM: Well, that's what they would be looking for, but in that particular case, I believe we could just pay the forfeiture and it's just the state finding another way to raise funds from private companies to try to raise money because we wouldn't pay for the extradition, we would just say, fine, out of state, out of mind.
The state makes its money, they don't prosecute. They'll get the forfeiture from us because we're not going to pay more than what the face value of what we would have to pay is. So then people could just commit crimes in the state of Connecticut, cross state lines, and know that the State of Connecticut has no intention of extraditing them.
REP. GONZALEZ: So that means that if we -- if we pass this bill that means that -- then that's going to happen, you know, in -- in some cases that you have to pay like $2,000, and if they go after that fugitive and they spend $10,000, if we pass this bill that means that instead of you paying $2,000, you would end up paying $10,000, which is not fair.
ANDREW BLOOM: No, that's not fair.
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. So -- so I think that the better -- my opinion is the better solution if -- if we use NCIC that way, we can -- if they find (inaudible) fugitive, they will let you know. You will go after them, and that way the state doesn't have to pay any money and you will bring that person back on your own expenses.
ANDREW BLOOM: On many occasions I've had law enforcement from different states contact me personally. I've worked with FBI agents, I've worked with U.S. Marshals, I've worked with different state police agencies, and I've been told where people are, and they held them for me and allowed me to bring them back to Connecticut at no cost to the state of Connecticut and no cost to any taxpayers.
I've brought these people back to the state of Connecticut to face prosecution on many occasions. I've been to all of the United States. I've been to California, I've been to Washington D.C., -- Washington State, I'm sorry, Washington State, Texas, Florida, up and down the coast, Oklahoma, all kinds of places. We've brought people back at no cost to taxpayers and at no extradition cost to the state of Connecticut.
If they would make it available that when somebody misses court, that if their warrant would go into NCIC and if the bail company who is responsible for this person, who they're technically under our surety and under our possession, they're under our custody, it's a form of custody. And if they're under our custody, then if they would put it in NCIC that we could go get them and bring them back, it would bring all these defendants back, they could face their charges. People would not walk across the state line, thumb their nose at the state of Connecticut, and say, I committed a crime, but you're not coming to get me, nah, nah, nah, nah.
REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you.
ANDREW BLOOM: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Further questions?
REP. ROVERO: Quick question, what is the percentage that you keep when someone sets the bond? Say they set it at $10,000, what do you make them put up front?
ANDREW BLOOM: The fee for a bondman in the state of Connecticut is 10 percent of the first 5,000, and then 7 percent of everything thereafter. So a $10,000 bond equates to $850.
REP. ROVERO: And then if you have to -- if you lose them, what you might call, do you have to pay -- if you pay up quickly, you pay the State of Connecticut half of that bond?
ANDREW BLOOM: If you pay it quickly enough, they'll compromise at half. To -- it's always been, well, for many, many years, it's been the policy of the Chief State's Attorney's Office to compromise at half if it's paid without having any collections costs involved. If collections costs are involved and it takes a long time to collect from the bonds company or the surety, then it goes to the full amount, and that's understandable.
But as with any collections efforts, they're attempting to collect and raise money, so they've offered that opportunity to the bonds companies. And in probably 90, 95 percent of the cases, the bonds companies happily oblige and pay it when they have to. And, you know, that being said, when we don't have to, when we -- when somebody is detained somewhere else, we feel that we shouldn't have to.
REP. ROVERO: You know, do you think, in your opinion, that a lot of times we set bond for people when we really don't have to? Because I've -- I've had, I don't know what the percentage was, but I've had friends that had to put up a sizable amount of cash for a bond, and everybody knew he was never going to leave. He had a wife and three or four children, you know, in the area, and he has to put up a substantial amount of cash. He's not going to get it back.
I mean this is a one-way deal, and I'm not knocking your job, but it seems to be a one-way deal with someone that's not going to leave the state has to put up a sizable amount of cash and never see it. In fact, when he gets done, probably cost him more than his lawyer.
ANDREW BLOOM: Well, I agree and disagree with that. There are many people who are released in the state of Connecticut without -- through -- through different pre-trial release programs that should not be released, and there are probably plenty of them who a bond is put on them by the police department in the moment of passion because the person has committed whatever crime allegedly, and the police officers who have arrested him set the bail or the police department that he was arrested through sets the bail amount.
And now there was that little bit of passion, so maybe it's a little higher than it needed to be. Maybe the person could have been released on their own recognizance. But on the other side of that, you've got bail commissioners coming in and releasing convicted felons and convicted people who've been convicted of failures to appear on promises to appear on their own recognizance where no one monitors them.
And again if you have somebody who's from the suburbs and, you know, has never been arrested or from the city and has never been arrested, it doesn't really matter where they're from, I'm sorry, I take that back. Somebody who has been arrested who has no history and has done a minor crime that is not against a person, then I have no -- I would be foolish to say that I object to their being released on a promise to appear, on a personal level.
On a business level, obviously, I would like to see the bail. But on a personal level, I can understand that person being released on a promise to appear. But at the same time, somebody who's got multiple felony convictions who the bail commissioner walks out and laughs in the face of the bail bonds company says, ha, ha, you have to give them their money back, we've just given them a promise to appear, is a -- is a broken system. And that's going on daily here in Hartford, at the Hartford Police Department.
When the bail commissioners come out and laugh in the face of the bondsman or get on the phone and tell the -- is this the bondsman, oh, I've given that person a promise to appear. You can give them their money back now. It -- it again goes to the revolving door of -- of our system where people get arrested and then they're just let back out. They're arrested and let back out.
And nobody monitors those people to bring them back to court if they miss court. So then you've got thousands and thousands of failure to appear, ones that no one is going for. There's no magic warrant task squad -- squad that goes after them. That's why bail is important. Bail goes after them because we have a financial obligation to return them.
REP. ROVERO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Yes.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. You said you'd like to -- you didn't like it, but you liked some aspects. Did I hear that correctly?
ANDREW BLOOM: Yes, yes, Representative.
REP. YACCARINO: Why don't you let us know so we can remember what's good about this.
ANDREW BLOOM: Well, to be honest with you, this is a revision actually of something that's already been passed last year. What was passed last year was fine.
REP. YACCARINO: Okay.
ANDREW BLOOM: What has been revised in here, it's -- it's to require us to pay for all extraditions is hard to stomach because it's allowing the state to just say, okay, now we'll extradite everyone and make you pay for it. If they would allow us the, you know, if this would include an opportunity for us to self-extradite the person, then I would be in support of that.
REP. YACCARINO: That makes sense. You would have to actually go follow up on the original job basically.
ANDREW BLOOM: Right, because we have no problem with going anywhere to bring them back. We do it. I've done it, I've done the Dominican Republic, I've been to Puerto Rico, I brought a guy back from the island of Culebra.
REP. YACCARINO: I wanted to just hear that for my own self.
ANDREW BLOOM: Yes.
REP. YACCARINO: Thank you very much. It makes sense.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Any further questions from committee members? Thank you very much.
ANDREW BLOOM: Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Our next presenter is Amy Stegall.
AMY STEGALL: Members of the committee, my name is Amy Stegall. I appreciate the opportunity to speak today, and I will keep it brief for you. I'm here today to support House Bill 5245. And currently state statutes specific certain requirements be met for persons who apply for a permit to carry pistols and revolvers. Unfortunately, what has transpired over the years is that municipal police departments have begun to add additional requirements of their own which go beyond the scope of what is mandated by statute.
These additional pieces of information vary widely by town, and some towns not requiring anything additional and other towns adding a multitude of layers. These include asking for letters of reference and questions as to whether a person has all their teeth or prosthetic limbs. Some towns even go as far as requiring applicants to provide contact information for their employers and neighbors who are then contacted and queried about whether the applicant should receive a permit.
As this Legislature knows, permit information is protected by state law. And by contacting neighbors and employers during the application process, town police departments appear to be effectively preempting state privacy laws. The majority of applicants for permits are persons who are trying to abide by the laws and regulations of our state. By allowing this situation to continue, applicants are being needlessly bullied and intimidated.
It should be noted that previously the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners issued a declaratory ruling on this subject advising that the municipal police departments were exceeding their jurisdiction by requesting additional information. Since that ruling was issued, it would appear that no changes have taken place and the problem is still pervasive. I would ask that you support this legislation with one minor modification, that the phrase additional forms be replaced with additional information so that the intent of the bill remains clear.
Just as an -- a word of statement, if this type of activity occurred at the Department of Motor Vehicles for people who were applying for drivers licenses, it would be corrected immediately. I know the police try and do a very good job and it's a very serious situation that they're dealing with, but the state laws are clear and what's happened is the different towns with the different requirements run the gamut to the point where it's extremely arbitrary and very intimidating.
So just by virtue of the fact that you live in one town and not another, you could be subject to all sorts of proceedings. And again I really have concern about the fact that some towns require you to be queried -- have your neighbors and your employers queried, because if you're pistol permit holder, your information is protected so they couldn't do that unless there was a police investigation going on. So preemptively, I -- I do have concerns about that that they are doing that. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Amy, thank you very much for your testimony. You've got two fine legislators in Representative Bacchiochi and Senator Guglielmo, and it's good seeing you again.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Hi, Amy.
AMY STEGALL: Hello.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Thanks for coming up. Just a quick question, I -- I did, well, more of a statement, I guess. I did have a situation that I think would come under this law years ago, just to give an example, the FBI began to charge the background checks and one police chief was passing the charge on to the people coming in for the people -- pistol permit. And, of course, that wasn't covered by statute. And I don't know if it is or not, but at the time it wasn't.
So we had to explain to him that he couldn't do that. He said, you know, his logic was good logic that he hadn't budgeted for it and, you know, he didn't have the money. But in the end -- and I guess a question would be would this -- would this bill have some affect on that kind of situation which I outlined?
AMY STEGALL: Yes, it would.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: Okay.
AMY STEGALL: Because essentially it would create a uniform, fair and complete process so that all the police departments would be doing exactly the same thing at all times. What happens now is you have such a wide disparity and the police departments are used to doing as they see fit, that some charge fees for this and some charge fees for that and others don't. And sometimes they're extremely good. I know there are towns up in the northeast corner that are very specific about how to do it and they follow the statute and there are no problems.
But then you have other towns particularly with the larger cities that, when you add these additional fees, it's punitive to people who may not be able to afford it, and that's really terribly unfair.
SENATOR GUGLIELMO: I agree. Thank you very much, Amy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SENATOR HARTLEY: Yes, Representative Bacchiochi.
REP. BACCHIOCHI: Thank you, Madame Chair. And I have a couple questions also, Amy, because I'm not as familiar on this issue as I would like to be. How long ago was it that the Board of Pistol -- the Firearms Permit Examiners issued that declaratory ruling?
AMY STEGALL: I believe it was two years ago, 2009?
A VOICE: 2009.
AMY STEGALL: 2009, yes. Because this issue has been a problem for a long time, so the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, they were approached and they did issue a statement saying that police departments really are not doing things correctly.
REP. BACCHIOCHI: And have there been any further correspondence out of the board since they must be aware that post- the declaratory ruling there are continuing to be problems? Have any further statements been issued that you are aware of?
AMY STEGALL: Not that I'm aware of, but I don't think they really have oversight of the town police departments, really. So again it would be necessary, I think, to bump it to the state level with the statute in order to make it corrective.
REP. BACCHIOCHI: Okay. And I've heard one of the gentlemen earlier who was testifying stating that there should be some teeth involved -- some bite back for towns that are overstepping their boundaries. Do you or perhaps some of the -- the advocacy groups that spoke before you, I don't know if you're aware, do you have suggestions as to what that -- what might be appropriate?
AMY STEGALL: I don't personally have suggestions. I know that several people do, and I think probably this committee could further converse with the CCDL or Bob Crook to -- to get that information. And to be fair, the police departments are trying to do a good job. We have some towns that are doing a great job with this, but those that aren't really do it with impunity because they've never been challenged on it and they have no way of being stopped really. They -- they do as they see fit and it's become sort of a dictatorship in some cases.
REP. BACCHIOCHI: Well, I want to thank you and the others for coming because it's clearly a problem and an infringement on our rights. And I hope that this committee can address it this year. Thank you.
AMY STEGALL: And -- and I appreciate that. Just as a passing -- parting comment, it's -- it's really -- I don't have any objection to the requirements for background checks and things like that, but it needs to be universally applied and fairly applied.
People shouldn't be put through the wringer because they live one town over and maybe they can't afford the extra fees or maybe, you know, they have other issues the police department would do and not like, the credit check for instance. In today's world, you have to be fair and that's the reality of it. Thank you.
REP. DARGAN: Thank you. Further comments from any members? Thank you very much, Amy, for coming and testifying today. I think that's the conclusion of my list. I don't know if I missed anyone that would like to testify? Is there anyone that would like to testify that hasn't testified?
A VOICE: (Inaudible.)
REP. DARGAN: Sure. If you want. We -- we appreciate the public for being here and other Legislators that hung out. And thank you very much for your input today, and this concludes today's Public Safety and Security Public Hearing. Thank you once again and have a pleasant day.