The Meriden/Wallingford NAACP is applauding the passage of bill that would require police departments to adopt policies for the use of Tasers and other electronic weapons.
The state Senate passed House Bill 5389 on a 35-1 vote Wednesday night as the legislative session drew to a close, requiring police departments that use Tasers or other electronic weapons to adopt policies on their use and to track and report all incidents in which they are deployed.
The House of Representatives passed the bill May 2 on a 102-38 vote. The NAACP of Connecticut and American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut welcomed the legislation and urged Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to sign it.
Here is the statement of the Meriden/Wallingford NAACP:
After the death of José Maldonado in police custody last month, the Meriden/Wallingford NAACP President Jason Teal along with Scot X Esdaile State Conference President, and the ACLU of Connecticut urged legislative leaders to find a way to pass reform in this year’s legislative session. Maldonado, 22, a resident of the Manchester, died after an officer Tasered him at police headquarters in East Hartford. He was the 14th person to die after being Tasered by police in Connecticut.
Ten of the 14 people who died, or 71 percent, were African American or Latino, an alarming racial disproportion. Meriden was a focus city for Taser reform for the NAACP State Confernce, as 3 of the 14 deaths occurred in Meriden, with all of the deaths African-American or Latino. “It’s extremely alarming that a city the size of Meriden was number 2 in terms of the amount of individuals dying as a result of police taser use. It is even more worrisome that the police department turned a blind eye to the deaths that tasers have caused. Throughout the state it is clear that our community have had tasers disproportionally used on us. – Jason Teal, President of Meriden/Wallingford NAACP.
“This is a drastic disparity that we must address before more people die,” said Scot X. Esdaile, President of the NAACP of Connecticut. “Police have represented Tasers as non-lethal but we’ve learned otherwise.”
“We’re grateful to legislators for recognizing the risks of Tasers and for passing this bill,” said David McGuire, staff attorney for the ACLU of Connecticut. “We’ve been deeply concerned about the number of people who have died after being stunned with Tasers and the lack of information about how police are using them.”
Under the new law, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, police departments must adopt a policy on Taser use at least as stringent as a model policy developed by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. They must also report the details of each Taser deployment to the state Office of Policy and Management. “With that information and with policies that specifically address electronic weapons, we will move us toward safe and appropriate use of this important but potentially lethal law-enforcement tool,” McGuire said.
In 2011 and again in 2013, The CT NAACP and the ACLU of Connecticut supported Taser reform legislation. Three people died after being Tasered in Connecticut since the reform bill failed last year.