Connecticut Senators passed a measure last week that would clarify both to law enforcement and citizens, the right to videotape cops when acting in their official duties. In addition, lawmakers passed another bill that serves to strengthen racial profiling prevention methods already in place.
According to the Hartford Courant, the bill makes it clear that citizens have a right to videotape officers, even allowing citizens to sue officers who interfere in their videotaping. It does, however, lay out some exceptions.
Officers will not be held liable for interfering if the officer “reasonably believes” his interruption was to protect a crime scene or investigation. If the videotaping somehow compromises such an investigation, the officer can stop the citizen from recording.
The need for this bill became particularly apparent after Roman Catholic priest Rev. James Manship was arrested after recording East Haven police officers accused of hassling Hispanic citizens. His case led to the FBI investigation and federal arrest of four East Haven cops on charges of obstruction of justice and excessive force.
The bill passed 24-11 after four hours of debate.
The racial profiling bill takes existing measures and strengthens them in an effort to prevent racial profiling by law enforcement in the state of Connecticut.
The original racial profiling law was passed about a decade ago, at which time officials said there wasn't a pattern of bias against minorities. But, Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams said this week, “Racial profiling is a problem in Connecticut and throughout the United States…it's time to strengthen the law.”
A recent report from the Courant also said that minorities were more likely to receive tickets than white drivers after being stopped. Former state Representative Michael P. Lawlor backed this report when he said, “Almost every African-American has a story like that [of profiling], and very few white people do. It's real.”
Now, all departments will be required to use a standardized form on all police stops. The form will include the officer's name and badge number as well as the race, gender, age, color, and ethnicity of every person stopped. Also, rather than sending the reports only to the African American Affairs Commission, they will now go straight to the governor's budget office.
The racial profiling bill passed 31-3.
Whether you believe you are a victim of racial profiling, or if you believe you were wrongfully arrested for recording police, I may be able to help.
You have rights when you are accused of a crime, and your defense attorney is there to help protect those rights. Contact my offices today to discuss your case.