First-in-the-Nation CT Law Requires Police to File Use-of-Force Report After Firing Taser

In Connecticut, a new law just took effect which mandates that police fill out a use-of-force report after deploying a Taser on a suspect. According to The Stratford Star, Public Act 14-149, which went into effect on January 1 of this year, requires law enforcement officers to record the race and gender of each individual hit by a stun gun, as well as the number of times it was fired, the setting that was used while firing, and the injuries that it caused. Connecticut is the first state to pass a law requiring such reports each time a Taser is deployed.

Connecticut’s East Haven Police Department has served as a state-wide model on how to log Taser use-of-force reports, as it already implemented its own reforms as a part of a 2012 consent decree settlement with the Department of Justice. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, a December 2011 DOJ report stated that East Haven officers demonstrated “a pattern or practice of systematically discriminating against Latinos,” which prompted federal officials to recommend the new policies, which have been in force there since that time. Public Act 14-149 also stipulates that each Connecticut police department must adopt specific use-of-force policies for Taser deployments.

East Haven Police Chief Brent Larrabee described his department’s Taser rules to WNPR News, “In our case, they had a policy dating back to 2009, which was probably — at the time — just as good as it could be. But because of the circumstances here, we’ve certainly gone much farther and much more in depth, particularly about supervisory review, capturing all of the electronic data, storage of the electronic data, [and] mandating officers to make sure any time they use force, that a supervisor is there to investigate.”

The law requires that police download on-board data from the weapon itself after each use and mandates that all Taser deployments be posted online by the Office of Policy Management’s Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division.

ACLU of Connecticut representative David McGuire described the new Taser reports in comments to WNPR News, “It’s a very thorough report. It goes through the person’s race, their age, their height, their weight; how the Taser was used; what mode it was used in; how many times it was fired; whether the person had an injury; whether medical assistance was provided.”

Though other states, counties, and municipalities are wrestling with the issue of use-of-force by police and may implement their own reforms in the near future, Connecticut is the first US state to enact such a clear policy on Taser use.