Labor and Public Employees Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6662

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE REVOCATION OF PENSIONS OF POLICE OFFICERS WHO COMMIT ANY CRIME RELATED TO EMPLOYMENT.

Vote Date:

3/9/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/21/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Labor and Public Employees Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Peace officers convicted of any crime related to their employment still receive their pensions. This bill makes punishment for offenses more severe.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Representative Minnie Gonzalez

Rep. Gonzalez submitted photos of a recorded incident of police abuse towards a handcuffed suspect. Although the incident was investigated and one Sargent was arrested, there is still an ongoing investigation as to whether the other officers involved would also be punished. In all matters connected with breaking laws, especially for law enforcement officers, the truth must be found.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

David McGuire, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut

He testified his group is committed to justice and freedom and they strongly support due process rights and second chances. They advocate for government transparency/accountability and prioritize policies that prevent government sanctioned discrimination, violence or abuse. Deterring police misconduct and holding police accountable benefits both police and community members. There is already a law that allows courts to revoke or reduce he pensions of government employees who are convicted of financial crimes related to employment. However, this law has limited scope and doesn't provide recourse when an officer violates public trust by abusing their powers by discriminating, maiming or killing a community member.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Patti Shea, Attorney, Police Officers Association of Connecticut

Ms. Shea's testified that there is already a Connecticut Statute in existence since 2008 which states the guidelines for pension revocation for a state or municipal employee. It is unfair to single-out state and municipal police officers to have their pensions “automatically forfeited' without any due process.

Glenn Terlecki, President, Connecticut Police and Fire Union

In written testimony, Mr. Terlecki said police officers are now facing more pressure than ever before. In addition to threats to their personal safety, they are attacked in the media and courts. Despite the incredible challenges that make their jobs difficult, today's public safety officers continue to keep our communities safe. Officers are not comfortable about their pension benefits being secure. They are negotiated by labor union leaders in good faith with representatives from the Governor's' office. Members of each bargaining union should have the opportunity to vote to accept or reject changes. They have already made vast concessions and feel enough is enough.

AFSCME Council 4

AFSCME's submitted testimony saying pensions are a vested, earned property and it would be unfair to make seizures under any circumstances. The bill makes no allowance for the severity of a crime and even very minor misdemeanors would be subject to pension seizure. A hallmark of our justice system is proportionally – that the punishment should fit the crime. There is already a state law allowing seizures if an officer committed a financial crime. They oppose this law and the bill now being considered is a far harsher version of what they feel is already is bad law.

Stephen Anderson, President, CSEA SEIU Local 2001

They respectfully oppose this bill because it is overly broad and has the potential for unintended consequences while subjecting law enforcement professionals to excessive penalties.

Reported by: Marie Knudsen

Date: March 27, 2017