Proposed jurisdiction bill setting stage for national conversation set to go to state of Connecticut legislature


Public hearing scheduled for March 16 at Hartford Public High School

March 12, 2015, Hartford, CT...There will be a public hearing held on Monday, March 16, 2015 at 10:30am at Hartford Public High School to introduce a bill concerning the cross jurisdictional enforcement of local municipal ordinances. The bill, drafted by Connecticut State Representative Matthew Ritter, clarifies the scope of jurisdictional enforcement of alleged offenses at the local municipality level.
The proposed bill comes a year after one of Ritter’s constituents, former MLB player Doug Glanville, experienced a difficult encounter with a West Hartford police officer while Glanville was shoveling snow in his driveway in Hartford. Glanville’s riveting piece in The Atlantic about the emotional fallout of that exchange gained national attention and response in April 2014.
Over the past year, Mr. Glanville has spent significant time discussing the broader issues implicated in his experience with community leaders and citizens across the country. Glanville explains, “I am thankful that Representative Ritter took the time to propose this bill. Since this first happened to me, he has been supportive and passionate about making sure this did not happen again. It is over a year later, and it is still not clear if I, and my fellow community members, can be in front of our homes without being confronted by an officer from another town for any and everything. This bill creates tangible hope that I could help bring clarity, and change circumstances for more than me.”
In understanding the laws governing jurisdiction in Connecticut, Ritter requested research from the Connecticut Government Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research which concluded:
The statutes do limit the arrest authority of local police officers outside of their towns.  In their towns, local police officers may arrest, without a complaint and warrant, anyone apprehended in the act of committing an offense or on the speedy information of others.  Outside their towns, local police officers may only arrest someone without a warrant if the officer:  (1) crosses town lines while in immediate pursuit of someone the officer has authority to arrest within his or her town, or (2) has reasonable grounds to believe the person committed or is committing a felony (CGS § 54-1f). Thus, the statutes do not authorize local police officers to take actions to enforce fine-only ordinances beyond their town lines.
Based on these conclusions and Ritter’s understanding of Glanville’s experience, Ritter describes his team’s findings, “It has become abundantly clear that some legal questions are raised. Questions, I believe, all citizens have a right to have answered.”
The bill was drafted to clarify and extend these laws to prohibit an officer from one municipality from crossing town lines to enforce municipal law. David McGuire, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Connecticut, describes the need for clarification, “Police need to follow rules—rules about fairness, equality and even-handedness between communities. A black man stopped and questioned doing absolutely nothing wrong is unfortunately a common occurrence. These incidents foster distrust in our police, which compromises everyone’s public safety.”
While both Ritter and Glanville are sympathetic to the challenges faced by law enforcement professionals, they believe this is a reasonable and necessary bill. As McGuire expands, “I believe this bill will reduce unnecessary extra-jurisdictional efforts; efforts that have directly impacted many local people who would remain overlooked without this important clarification. This bill brings visibility and voice to the disenfranchised members of our community while assisting the entire community in reducing exposure to unnecessary risk and liability for all involved.”
Neither the spirit of the bill, nor the bill as written, impedes police officers from pursuing investigations, misdemeanors or felonies. “There is a collective nature of enforcing the law, an effort where region-wide collaboration is necessary to maintain law enforcement’s ability to do good work when a serious crime is involved. At times, judicious and expeditious inter-district cooperation is imperative. This is important to understand. However, these efforts do not need to spill into the enforcement of municipal law outside one’s municipality,” reinforces Representative Ritter.
The public is invited to the hearing which will explain the proposed bill. The hearing will be held on March 16 at 10:30am at Hartford Public High School Auditorium, 55 Forest Street in Hartford. Limited parking is available on the street and in the school’s parking lot. Carpooling is encouraged.
In lieu of attending the hearing, a testimony may be submitted to (Enter “HB 6863” in the Subject Line) or directed to State Representative Matthew Ritter’s office at the Connecticut State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106.
Glanville adds, “I hope this bill is supported statewide by both citizens and law enforcement.  This is a significant step towards limiting the avoidable exchanges that lead to misunderstanding, risk, tension, and overreaction. Yet, we will need to take more steps for our communities to trust we are committed to neutral, unbiased law enforcement, especially near our borders. Our country is in a challenging time with how our laws are enforced. Let Greater Hartford and the state of Connecticut rise to the challenge and set the bar.”


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