HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A retired judge who also has served as a prosecutor and public defender was picked Monday to become Connecticut's first inspector general, a position created to investigate any use of deadly force by police.
Robert Devlin, 71, was chosen from among four finalists after interviews before the Connecticut Criminal Justice Commission.
The commission voted 5-0 to appoint Devlin to the $180,000-a year position.
Devlin told the commission that because of his age and experience, he would not be using the job as a stepping stone and plans to give everyone involved in each investigation “a fair shake.”
“There are people in our society who think the police can do no wrong and there are people in our society who think the police can do no right," Devlin told the commission. “It's in that space in between that the inspector general has to work, and let the results speak for themselves.”
Devlin, who was appointed as a Superior Court judge in 1992, served as the state's chief administrative judge for that court from 2010 to 2017. He is currently the chairman of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission.
As inspector general, Devlin will investigate whether an officer’s use of deadly force was justified and, if it was not, to prosecute the officer. He also is charged with recommending whether an officer’s state certification should be suspended or revoked.
The position was created in a bill approved last year in response to the police-involved deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other Black people. That law also limits circumstances in which deadly use of force including chokeholds can be justified, allows more civilian oversight of police departments and allows lawsuits against officers for violating people’s civil rights, in certain situations.
“For the Inspector General to make meaningful progress toward valuing Black lives by holding police accountable for violence, they must be independent from other prosecutors, their office must be fully funded, they must use their legal power to seek redress for people harmed by police, and they must advocate to eliminate the systems that have shielded police from accountability for decades," said Claudine Fox, the ACLU of Connecticut's public policy and advocacy director.
"We hope the first inspector general will set the tone for all who follow by staunchly advocating for and defending each of these requirements for success."