The current angst in our country surrounding issues of race and police accountability is overwhelming and disheartening, and it feels like we are divided more now than ever. We need to focus on respecting each other, being kind, and listening to one another. I believe that despite the turmoil and chaos raging across the nation, singling out law enforcement officers is not the right way to achieve the change we need to be truly united.
I recently voted against the police accountability bill before the legislature because of the massive overreach in this legislation – it just went too far. Namely, the changes to ‘Qualified Immunity’ would expose the good men and women who protect our communities to civil lawsuits, along with other unintended consequences on local municipalities and taxpayers. I am also concerned that the dedicated individuals currently working in law enforcement will either retire early, or be forced to seek other careers because of this legislation. The new legislation also prohibits officers from requesting a search of vehicles during traffic stops, which limits their ability to investigate criminal activity such as drug and gun trafficking.
I recently spoke with the Police Chief of North Haven, Tom McLoughlin, and he too shares concerns about this new legislation. The North Haven Police Department prohibits the use of chokeholds, and requires officers intervene in matters of excessive use of force. The department already requires and utilizes body cameras and they are nationally accredited by The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®).
What I do support regarding police accountability is investing in programs and training that ensures law enforcement officers are properly equipped to handle matters regarding race, de-escalation techniques and physical restraints. I also believe that an important and complex matter such as this one should have been properly vetted through the legislative process and taken up during a regular legislative session. We should never resort to pitting one group of people against others to resolve the issues in our state and country, we must always work together and respect all groups equally.
State Representative Dave Yaccarino