Gov. Ned Lamont made a commitment to transparency when he was campaigning for Connecticut’s top elected post, a commitment that was voiced during a meeting with the editorial board of this newspaper. So, it could be seen as encouraging when in July the Democratic governor signed a law that included the establishment of a task force aimed at studying police transparency and accountability across the state.
Alas, the deadline to report to the state Legislature with recommendations has come and gone, and while there’s some hope that it may take place in the near future, the panel has yet to meet. Talk about getting off to a bad start. Some members of the task force have yet to be appointed.
The task force was part of a law that includes other provisions that help serve accountability, including, as the Associated Press has reported, requiring that police turn over to the public recordings from dashboard or body camera recordings within 96 hours of an event. It also calls for law enforcement agencies to supply annual reports on use of force and use of firearms incidents.
There’s no doubt that this information serves the public interest. David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, provided for the AP the example of Steven Barrier, who died in police custody in October. Video of the police pursuit of Barrier “left open questions of how the case could have been handled differently,” said the AP report.
“More needs to be done for more transparency,” said McGuire.
As for the task force, it’s better late than never. With the coming of the next legislative session there’s opportunity to get moving on this initiative.