OLR Bill Analysis

HB 6663

AN ACT CONCERNING POLICE MISCONDUCT.

SUMMARY

Under current law, whenever a peace officer, in performing the officer's duties, uses physical force that results in another person's death, the Division of Criminal Justice must investigate and determine whether the officer's use of force was appropriate under the law that allows the use of physical force when making an arrest or preventing escape. This bill expands the investigation requirement to include any incident where an officer uses physical force, regardless of whether it resulted in a death.

If the division determines the use of force was not appropriate under the law, the bill requires the officer to be immediately suspended without pay until any further proceedings involving the incident conclude. The bill requires the officer's employment to be terminated if the officer is convicted of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to, any (1) inappropriate use of physical force or (2) violent crime involving the unlawful use or threatened use of physical force under any state law related to the officer's employment.

The bill also makes several changes to the investigation process, such as establishing a five-day deadline for investigations to be completed and requiring the division's report on the incident to be made publicly available.

Lastly, the bill prohibits any collective bargaining agreement entered into on or after July 1, 2017 from limiting the bill's provisions to any peace officer.

(To the extent that the bill's requirements for a suspension without pay or termination conflict with pre-existing collective bargaining agreements, it could be subject to claims that it violates the Constitution's contracts clause (art. 1, 10), which prohibits the states from passing laws that impair the obligation of contracts.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

INVESTIGATION PROCESS

The bill requires investigations, for both lethal and non-lethal uses of physical force, to be completed within five business days after the incident. It also requires the division's determination to be based on a preponderance of the evidence.

Current law requires the division to ask the appropriate law enforcement agency to provide the assistance needed to determine the incident's circumstances. The bill instead requires the division to ask (1) the employing law enforcement agency to provide all information in its possession relevant to the incident and (2) for assistance from any other appropriate law enforcement agency needed to determine the incident's circumstances. It also allows, rather than requires, the Chief State's Attorney, upon request from the prosecutor conducting the investigation, to request special inspectors to assist with the investigation.

The bill requires the Chief State's Attorney to make the report on the incident publicly available when, as required by law, he provides it to the chief executive officer of the municipality where the incident occurred and the municipality's police chief, or the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, as applicable.

PEACE OFFICERS

Under the bill, “peace officers” include the following:

1. members of the State Police;

2. members of an organized local police department;

3. chief inspectors or inspectors in the Division of Criminal Justice;

4. state marshals exercising authority granted under any provision of the general statutes;

5. judicial marshals performing their duties;

6. conservation officers or special conservation officers;

7. constables performing criminal law enforcement duties;

8. special police officers appointed for (a) state buildings or lands, (b) investigating public assistance fraud, or (c) utility and transportation companies;

9. adult probation officers;

10. Department of Correction officials authorized to make arrests in a correctional institution or facility;

11. investigators in the investigations unit of the office of the State Treasurer;

12. U.S. marshals or deputy marshals;

13. special agents of the federal government authorized to enforce federal food and drug laws; and

14. members of a law enforcement unit of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe or the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut.

(Because federal employees and members of the Indian tribes' law enforcement units are covered by federal, not by state, collective bargaining laws, the bill's provisions regarding their collective bargaining agreements would presumably be preempted by federal law. Additionally, the state presumably cannot require federal employees or members of the Indian Tribes' law enforcement units to be suspended without pay or terminated, as required under the bill.)

BACKGROUND

Related Bill

HB 6662, favorably reported by the Labor and Public Employees Committee, allows a state court to revoke or reduce a peace officer's pension if the officer is convicted of, or pleads guilty or no contest to, any crime related to the officer's inappropriate use of physical force that violates the law specifying when officers can use physical force and deadly physical force. It also requires a peace officer to be immediately suspended without pay whenever the Division of Criminal Justice investigates the officer's use of deadly physical force.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

7

Nay

6

(03/09/2017)