Proposed Anti-Profiling Ordinance Resurfaces In Hartford
Police Chief Had Opposed Earlier Version
November 09, 2010
The city council Monday revived a proposed ordinance that, if adopted, would limit the Hartford Police Department's immigration enforcement and domestic surveillance activities.
The council unanimously referred the amended ordinance — initially proposed in August by Councilman Luis Cotto — to its quality of life and public safety committees for further discussion.
Cotto said Monday that the purpose of the ordinance is to maintain the police department's focus on its core public mission of serving and protecting city residents.
But Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, in an August memo to Mayor Pedro Segarra and state and federal authorities, argued that it would "greatly restrict" the department's "ability to function as a law enforcement agency and preclude us from working with our Federal, State and Local law enforcement partners." Roberts added that the city might also be at risk of losing grant funding that requires information sharing and cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.
In the amended proposal, Cotto wrote that "the new ordinance contains substantial changes that aim to defuse the police department's legitimate arguments while holding the line on the most crucial elements of the bill. Under the proposed amendments, HPD would retain the operational flexibility to engage in surveillance based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity (a less demanding standard than probable cause) while also remaining subject to the bill's reporting requirements and limits on collaboration with federal departments."
Roberts, who said Monday that he had not seen a copy of the proposed ordinance with the changes, maintained that if the council adopts an ordinance that keeps him from doing his job, he will continue to oppose it.
"I'm not going to do anything that violates the Constitution or follow orders that violate the Constitution," he said. "If they pass an ordinance that supersedes the law, I can't do it."
Cotto, who hopes to have the ordinance voted on by the full council before the end of the year, said he expected Roberts to make his feelings known as the proposal makes its way through committee hearings and public comment.
Regardless of opposition to the the ordinance, Cotto, who recalled growing up in Hartford "terrorized by police," said something should be done to protect the city from lawsuits and residents of all colors from profiling.
"We should do this because it's the right thing to do for the young people of this city who live in fear of being pulled over," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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