New Jersey, Connecticut Enact Police Reforms After George Floyd's Murder

Police reforms aren't just happening in New York. New Jersey and Connecticut are also tackling it. CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reports.

Video Transcript

- It is not just New York. New Jersey, and Connecticut are also tackling police reform.

- CBS 2's Kiran Dhillon has more on how those states are answering the calls for action.

KIRAN DHILLON: Do you think that policing can be reformed?

- Through better accountability measures, through better transparency, you can have better outcomes, that it is possible to reimagine policing without dismantling the entire system altogether.

KIRAN DHILLON: As protesters around the country demanded police reform in the wake of George Floyd's death, leaders in the tri-state area went to work. In New Jersey, the overhaul of a decades-old use of force policy was already underway, but Floyd's death created an urgency for more action.

- This divide that exists between law enforcement the communities we serve is only going to widen unless we take steps to bridge it.

KIRAN DHILLON: Use of force here by an officer towards a civilian is now prohibited, unless used as a last resort. The revised policy also mandates all instances of force will be available for the public to review on an online portal. Officers will also have to undergo a mandatory retraining course that focuses on de-escalation.

- The core principle of our new policy is respecting the sanctity of life and the dignity of every person with whom a police officer interacts.

KIRAN DHILLON: Connecticut has a similar mandate for police accountability, passed shortly after Floyd's death. Leaders here say reform is not anti-police, but pro public safety.

REP. STEVE STAFSTROM: We actually can benefit policing and police officers when there's more transparency, accountability, and community buy in.

SEN. GARY WINFIELD: This is about dealing with the power distribution that exists and making sure that it's properly checked.

KIRAN DHILLON: State Senator Gary Winfield and House Representative Steve Stafstrom co-authored the new law. It builds on previous reform bills passed in 2015 and 2019 and creates a statewide watchdog for police misconduct. It also mandates body and dashboard cameras, limits qualified immunity, and limits how much of an officer's disciplinary records can be withheld from the public.

Well, the changes have been met with some backlash. Officials in both states say they met with community and police groups in drafting the new policies. They say while more work is necessary, the changes are a step in the right direction. They add, any states that have yet to act on police reform, follow their lead. Kiran Dhillon, CBS 2 News.