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More cops, better training, zero tolerance for brutality and racist actions

The Police Accountability Bill is a credible idea, even if the genesis of the eventual law was born of overt falsehoods and misconceptions, combined with blinding pressure from a bevy of racially charged anti-police organizations. A set of strict guidelines and regulations may help protect both the public and law enforcement officers moving forward, and, last week, in preparation for the upcoming special legislative session, a group of lawmakers released their ideas of what could become the framework for legislation.

The draft was compiled by the Democratic co-chairs of the judiciary committee, Sen. Gary Winfield of New Haven and Rep. Steve Stafstrom of Bridgeport, along with ranking Republican members Sen. John Kissel of Enfield and Rep. Rosa Rebimbas of Naugatuck. The legislators are proposing a wide variety of policy enhancements, ranging from the creation of an Inspector General to prohibiting any use by law enforcement of military-grade equipment and limiting chokeholds and neck restraints.

State representatives and senators will feel extreme pressures from social groups as well as organizations like Black Lives Matter to vote through proposals that could handicap law enforcement's ability to serve the public. Some of the potential changes make sense, while others are a simple pander to the mob mentality.

I’d like to stress that it’s my position police departments across the state and country perform their duties admirably, placing the safety and wellbeing of the public above all else. However, since a new law is imminent, here's what it should encompass.

1. Body and dashboard cameras should be mandatory and be left on and recording for an officer's entire shift. No exceptions! The challenge will be data storage and how to monitor and pay for it.

2. Zero tolerance for racial or homophobic insensitivity. No jokes, comments, emails, or memes. We live in a completely different environment than even 20 years ago and that nonsense, even if it is intended as good-natured, is no longer acceptable.

3. Mandatory psychiatric evaluations. Law enforcement officers suffer from a high rate of PTSD and should have access to the best levels of mental health care.

4. Increase the penalty for resisting arrest to a felony. We have allowed the criminals to dictate practice and the police deserve some protection, here. You fight, you run, you go to jail!

5. For public safety, Connecticut must obtain the state minimum-mandated total of 1,248 state troopers and maintain it.

6. Bad cops should be judged and held accountable. Develop a statewide task force consisting of equal parts civilian and law enforcement representation with the power to make recommendations in cases of alleged police brutality.

7. Increase the minimum mandatory marksmanship and physical fitness levels for all officers along with advanced scenarios and weapons simulation training. Better trained officers will effectively identify threats and react accordingly.

8. End chokeholds unless the use of lethal force to stop an assailant is unavoidable.

9. Keep the qualified immunity shield, the doctrine granting police immunity from civil suits.

10. No restrictions on "No-knock warrants.” The alternative is asinine. Well-armed drug dealers do not need a heads up that SWAT is knocking on the door at 3 a.m.

11. Incentivize potential police candidates by instituting programs offering quicker and more reliable tracks for advancement. Offer higher starting wages to college and advanced degree-holders.

12. Police resource officers should be placed in every middle school and high school in the state. A warped societal narrative has built a barrier between the kids and the cops creating a false scenario where the police have become the enemy. A resource officer in every school helps eliminate that barricade.

13. Keep criminals locked up. End the absurd early release program. Repeat and violent offenders released from prison early demoralize law enforcement.

14. This will all cost more money, so rather than defund and/or dismantle police departments, I would advocate for a 20% one-time increase revisited each collective bargaining session.

Policing is a high-stress job that requires split-second life and death decision making. Every year cops have tens of millions of interactions and encounters with citizens that result in a non-violent resolution. It's inevitable that when individuals resist arrest and or become a danger to the community the measure of force escalates.

Cops are not perfect, but the numbers suggest they perform their duties in exemplary fashion. In the end, the police are charged with the unforgiving responsibility to protect and serve. Let's give them the resources and support to do just that.

Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.

 

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