UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — With the fatal ambush of two Connecticut police officers still fresh in the minds of voters, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski on Tuesday blamed a police reform bill signed by Democratic Governor Ned Lamont for encouraging anarchy as the couple met. in the final debate of the race.
The claim drew a sharp rebuke from Lamont, who accused his opponent of politicizing the tragedy, calling it “the cheapest demagoguery imagined”.
Besides the economy and inflation, crime has been a key issue in the rematch between Lamont and Stefanowski. The situation has escalated since three Bristol police officers were shot on October 12 in what police believe was an ambush by a 911 call made by the shooter. Two Bristol officers died.
Stefanowski recently began airing a TV ad featuring the wife of a cross-department police officer who was seriously injured after being knocked down by a repeat offender. In the ad, the woman, whom Stefanowski pointed out in the debate hearing, says she blames Lamont for the crime.
Two years ago, Lamont signed into law a sweeping bill, proposed in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, that brought many changes to policing in Connecticut. It created a new inspector general to investigate cases of police use of force, limited circumstances in which lethal force is justified, and allowed for greater civilian oversight of police departments.
The most controversial part of the new law, which sparked a protest at the state Capitol, authorized civil lawsuits against officers by individuals whose constitutional rights were violated by police if those actions were deemed “malicious , gratuitous or deliberate”, among others. .
After Tuesday’s debate, Stefanowski called it “unconscionable” that Lamont isn’t considering revamping the law after the two officers’ deaths.
“For him to not even consider, not even consider changing it, is crazy,” said Stefanowski, who said he heard from police who believed the legislation had helped create a culture of “tolerance” for criminals and a lack of respect for police officers. Stefanowski, who has been endorsed by several state police unions, accused Lamont of showing “disrespect” to law enforcement.
Lamont said it was a “horrible accusation” for Stefanowski to say he didn’t care about officers.
” It’s shocking. You know, I was there at Rentschler Field,” he said in reference to the stadium where a massive funeral was held for Bristol officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy. “I was there with 15,000 men and women in blue. I know exactly what that means. I just don’t think you can make those accusations. It is wrong and unfair and they are wrong.
Rob Hotaling, the gubernatorial candidate on the Connecticut Independent Party ticket and the only biracial contestant in the race, said he understands the safety concerns of police officers but also the safety concerns of people like him who have been racially profiled for crimes they didn’t do. commit.
“When you go through that experience, you realize you’re taking a different perspective on the police accountability bill,” Hotaling said. He said he agreed with Lamont that Stefanowski was “politicizing” the issue.
“Police lost their lives. We have to respect that. But then you look, okay, how do we make sure our communities are safe? Are our police safe? We should leave politicization aside,” he said. “There is no place for that in a civil society.
Follow AP’s election coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections
Visit https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.
. candidates office governor Connecticut clash about death police