Upset with Accountability Law, Police Unions in 26th District Endorse Kim Healy

After a controversial Police Accountability Law was passed by CT legislators, Wilton Police Officers endorsed a political candidate for the first time, endorsing Republican Kim Healy after her opponent, Democratic State Sen. Will Haskell, supported the law.

Following Sunday evening’s announcement of an uncharacteristic endorsement of a political candidate by police unions in the 143rd representative district, on Monday the police unions in the 26th state senate district also released an endorsement. Those groups said they were giving their support to Kim Healy.

According to a press release from Healy’s campaign, “Through an unprecedented alliance, the Local Police Unions of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton have joined in support of Republican State Senate candidate Kim Healy.”

EDITOR’S NOTE (Update, 3 p.m.): It’s important to clarify that the Wilton Police Union represents the officers of the Wilton Police Department. The endorsement did not come from the Wilton Police Department, which is a department of the town of Wilton and a separate entity from the union.

Unlike for statewide police organizations, the move to declare support for a partisan candidate is an uncharacteristic one for local police unions, which historically remain neutral when it comes to politics.

But the passage of police accountability legislation in the July special session of the CT General Assembly–a law that was introduced and supported by Democrats–is something the unions say pushed them to choose a side.

The Healy endorsement announcement–which uses much of the same language as the endorsement made for Patrizia Zucaro, the Republican candidate in the 143rd House race–specifically notes the partisan divide, pointing to Healy’s opponent Sen. Will Haskell, a Democrat.

“Their members, the men and women who have pledged to serve and protect their communities and to ensure that all rights of all citizens are equally preserved, have trusted their elected officials to legislate in support of the safety of all individuals, the public and their servants alike.

Instead, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, our State legislators have rushed to a crowd-pleasing judgment and condemnation of their local Police forces, merely based on hijacked emotions rather than factual data. As a result, in July Connecticut passed one of the strongest anti-Police bills in the country, whose success was solely ensured by a partisan charge led, among others, by our incumbent State Senator William Haskell, representing District 26.”

Haskell was a co-sponsor of HB 6004, the police accountibility bill.

The statement later adds, “We serve with integrity, and we ask for our legislators to serve our State with integrity, and not in the blatant furtherance of partisan political interests.”

Healy released a position statement on the bill, which is published on her website, noting she is “very concerned about the consequences of this bill.”

Healy’s father was a police officer with the NYPD, and her brother also became a law enforcement officer.

“This is one of many reasons why I find the negative attitude toward police today to be so disturbing. Not toward officers who clearly act wrongly, but for the great many who wake up every day to protect and serve their communities. We need to support our police and push for better, not denigrate and put them in harm’s way,” Healy writes in her position statement.

She echoed this in her remarks included in the endorsement press release.

“I am truly honored to have received this endorsement of the Police Unions of all seven towns–Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton, Weston, and Westport–in the 26th District because I have so much respect for the work that they do every day to keep our communities safe. My father and brother were police officers and I very personally understand the difficult job they do, often at great risk to their own lives, and it is the legislature’s responsibility to ensure that they have the tools and the means to perform it safely and successfully.”

Calling the bill “reckless,” Healy criticizes it as something that will put officers and the public in more danger.

“It will lead to significantly greater risk for officers and the public because it legislates hesitation into police encounters. This bill does not actually address what the country is crying out for:  removing bad police officers from the job and extra training for good officers. This expensive and extravagant bill will not solve the very problem that lead to its creation. The bill prohibits consent searches, which has been [an] essential tool in removing illicit drugs and firearms from our streets. It also opens the door to nuisance litigation where settlements will be extracted from towns, creating major financial liabilities and potentially tarnishing a good officer’s reputation. Finally, it mandates impossible training requirements that are exceedingly expensive and ineffective, all without necessary funding,” she said

Healy added, “Legislators are not doing their job when they do not adequately consult with those most impacted by this legislation to create a bill that properly addresses their well-intended goals. This bill was hastily rushed through in the middle of the night and members of the majority party have conceded that it now requires amendments before it is even implemented. If elected, I will propose the necessary reforms to ensure that our police officers and all in our communities are safe.”

Haskell response:

GOOD Morning Wilton asked Haskell for reaction to the statement released by the unions. He sent the following comment:

“When it comes to issues of criminal justice and public safety, I answer to all of my constituents–not just union leadership. The police accountability bill that I voted for in July is a common sense, moderate reform that cracks down on bad apples within our state’s police force and standardizes the training that our officers receive statewide. The Black Lives Matter marches that I joined in Wilton and around Fairfield County this summer were not photo ops; they were calls to action. This bill was an essential part of answering those calls.

“I had long discussions with multiple police chiefs and officers in my district, including in Wilton, before supporting this bill. While we didn’t see eye to eye on every portion of this legislation, I was still able to make significant edits to the bill in the judiciary committee based on their input. It always stings to lose an endorsement, but I’ll continue to fight for funding and support for our local police officer despite our political differences–just as hard as I’ll fight for the Connecticut Realtors, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, CT Against Gun Violence, and all of the other local groups that have endorsed my campaign.”

Full statement from the 26th District police unions endorsing Kim Healy for State Senate:

Through an unprecedented alliance, the Local Police Unions of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton have joined in support of Senate candidate Kim Healy.

Local Police Unions have historically aimed to maintain a neutral position in political matters. Their members, the men and women who have pledged to serve and protect their communities and to ensure that all rights of all citizens are equally preserved, have trusted their elected officials to legislate in support of the safety of all individuals, the public and their servants alike.

Instead, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, our State legislators have rushed to a crowd-pleasing judgment and condemnation of their local Police forces, merely based on hijacked emotions rather than factual data. As a result, in July Connecticut passed one of the strongest anti-Police bills in the country, whose success was solely ensured by a partisan charge led, among others, by our incumbent State Senator William Haskell, representing District 26.

The bill was hastily put together and voted on without any meaningful consultation with those who were to be mostly affected by it. Police have been demonized and vilified, accused of random and intentional wrongdoings, and alleged to operate under the “shielding” power of a largely misunderstood qualified immunity.

The Unions’ message to our communities is that our members will continue to be proudly committed to the safety of the public, to the assistance of all those in need, and to the preservation of life and property, with the highest respect for all diversity that is the essence of humanity. But we do need your support, and we encourage you to engage in conversations with your local officers to better understand how this legislation has affected not only the officers’ ability to protect themselves, but also, as a result, their ability to safely engage to protect the communities they care about and have sworn to protect.

We serve with integrity, and we ask for our legislators to serve our State with integrity, and not in the blatant furtherance of partisan political interests.

The Unions will therefore ask you to stand with us in support of Kim Healy, as an advocate for the safety of our communities, and the safety of the men and women who have devoted their lives to the service of the public.”

Bethel Police Union
New Canaan Police Union
Redding Police Union
Ridgefield Police Union
Wilton Police Union
Weston Police Union
Westport Police Union

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. While I believe strongly in every citizen’s right to be individually involved in political thought and action, whatever their personal beliefs, I find it lamentable that the Wilton Police as a public service group is involving itself in partisan politics. I also thought that their description of the legislation to which the group objects was inaccurate and extreme. How was their decision to take such action decided? Was it by a vote of all the police persons on the force, or was it some leadership decision, and did any policeman or policewoman object? Should we expect political endorsements from the Planning and Zoning Commission or other Town Boards? In short, the police as a unit of our Town government should be apolitical.

    • Hi Roger, Thanks for your comment, it reminded me to make an important ‘editor’s note’ update to the article. I’m adding it here too: “It’s important to clarify that the Wilton Police Union represents the officers of the Wilton Police Department. The endorsement did not come from the Wilton Police Department, which is a department of the town of Wilton and a separate entity from the union.”

  2. I am sorry to read the hyperbolic words of the Republican candidate. I do not see how this legislation would put police at risk. And since we are using our relative’s credentials as bona fides, let me say that MY father was an NYC police officer. MY UNCLE was a NYC police officer. And MY grandfather was a NYC police officer. So as an independent voter with a police legacy, I am in support of the July legislation.

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