By PoliceOne Staff
HARTFORD, Conn. — A bill has passed the Connecticut State Senate — and is now on its way to the State House of Representatives for consideration — that would ensure the public’s right to photograph or record police officers, and even give citizens a new way to bring civil charges against law enforcement officers who those citizens allege ‘wrongly arrested them’ because they were taking pictures of police.
The bill was proposed by state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney — a Democrat from New Haven — who reportedly said police officers would only have ‘something to worry’ about if they were conducting themselves improperly. The bill itself was proposed in response to a few incidents in which citizens were arrested for recording incidents, with the arrests later dismissed.
In 2009, East Haven officers arrested a priest named Jim Manship after he recorded on video the alleged harassment of some local store owners, and the 2010 arrest of a man named Luis Luna as he recorded the arrest of another individual.
“Under the bill, the officers are liable for a civil action if they lack a reasonable basis for believing that they are enacting a criminal or municipal law; they are protecting public safety; they are preserving the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation, or are safeguarding the privacy of any person, including a crime victim,” said a report in the Litchfield Country Register Citizen.
According to a report in the New Haven Independent, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney — a Republican from Fairfield — said cops already have enough to worry about.
“I don’t want that police officer to be thinking for a second, ‘wait a minute, I’ve got this new law I might be liable. Oh darn. What am I going to do?’” he said in the Independent. “I think that takes away from them doing their best job.”