State Police union questions reasoning behind Lamont's order

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut State Police Union is questioning whether Gov. Ned Lamont's recent executive order banning the use of chokeholds was issued for political reasons, noting the agency had prohibited the form of restraint more than three decades ago.

In a letter to the Democratic governor, released Wednesday, Andrew Matthews, the union's executive director, said union members find Lamont's June 15 executive order both disappointing and confusing. Because the order only affects the state police, he said it gives the impression that troopers do not already follow the standards he is imposing.

“This leads us to believe you are trying to politicize the issue of chokeholds — already banned by the State Police — for your own political benefit,” wrote Matthews, who estimates the majority of the provisions in Lamont's edict are currently practiced or required by the state police.

Lamont issued the order following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Max Reiss, the governor's spokesman, defended the order, saying the governor banned chokeholds because he felt it was “the right thing to do” and that it sends the “right message” to the public.

Reiss said the order takes other steps to improve police accountability within the state police, including instituting a community liaison program, suspending the acquisition of military-style equipment through a federal program, and requiring mandatory use of body and dashboard cameras and the reporting of all uses of force.

“These are steps the governor took because he believes they represent a more trustworthy relationship between our state police and the residents they serve,” Reiss said.

Matthews questioned why Lamont's order was only directed at the state police, when there are other law enforcement agencies in state government. He predicted it will lead to low morale and loss of confidence in state leadership.

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