Police in Connecticut Now Have a Duty to Intervene and Stop the Use of Excessive Force

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Connecticut criminal defense attorneyOver the last few years, the issue of excessive force by police officers has become one of national focus and attention. In many circles, the phrase “police brutality” is used instead of “excessive force.” Following several high-profile situations caught on camera in which criminal suspects died in interactions with the police, lawmakers in Connecticut decided it was time to take definitive action.

On October 1, 2020, a series of new laws took effect throughout the state. These new statutes have been referred to in reports as “police accountability laws” because they address various types of behaviors by police officers. One of the new laws directly pertains to the use of excessive force by the police and the duty of officers to intervene when they witness the use of excessive force.  

Connecticut Police Academy Issues Guidance Memo

A week before the new laws went into effect, Karen Boisvert, the Administrator of the Connecticut Police Academy, issued a general notice to law enforcement officers across the state. The notice was addressed to police chiefs, training officers, protective services agencies, and resident troopers. The guidance notice summarized the portion of the statute that pertains to an officer’s use of force and laid out the expectations for all officers.

According to the guidance notice, these duties include:

  • The duty to render aid: Officers are expected to request emergency medical services (EMS) for any person with a visible injury, a complaint of an injury, or any signs of medical distress. An officer must also request an EMS response for any person who was subject to the use of force by a police officer.
  • The duty to intervene: An officer who witnesses another officer, regardless of rank, using force that the witness officer “knows to be unreasonable shall intervene and attempt to stop such use of force.” The witnessing officer is permitted to use verbal and physical intervention to stop the use of unreasonable force. Undercover officers are exempt from the policy, and exigent circumstances could excuse an officer for not intervening, but such circumstances must be reported and documented as soon as possible. An officer who does not intervene is subject to “disciplinary action and criminal prosecution for the same acts as the offending officer.”
  • The duty to report: An officer who witnesses the use of unreasonable force by another officer is also required to report the behavior that he or she witnessed as soon as possible. The report must be made even if the witness officer was not able to intervene. Failure to report the use of unreasonable force could leave the witness officer subject to disciplinary action and criminal prosecution.

The guidance notice also explicitly forbids police departments from retaliating against any officer who act in accordance with the new policies. Retaliation is also prohibited against officers who cooperate in a criminal investigation into the alleged use of excessive or unreasonable force.

Contact a Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love was subjected to the use of excessive force by the police in the course of being arrested, an experienced East Hartford criminal defense lawyer can help you take appropriate action. Call 860-290-8690 for a free consultation with a member of the team at Woolf Law Firm, LLC, today. We will work hard to protect your rights and best interests, no matter what type of charges you may be facing.

 

Sources:

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/state-police-officers-standards-and-training-council-bans-chokeholds-requires-officers-to-intervene-in-misconduct-cases/2287344/

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/POST/GENERAL_NOTICES/2020/20-07-DUTY-TO-INTERVENE-AND-REPORT-with-attachment.pdf

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