After last month's arrest of a political activist at the governor's inaugural parade, the co-chairmen of the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee are drafting bills that would require law enforcement to use greater care in assessing the potential threat posed by political dissidents.Exactly. Nobody is saying not to be aware of potential threats, but you need to exercise judicious use of detention when required rather than using preemptive arrest as a counter to such threats. And there also needs to be a reviewable procedure for collecting and disseminating information among law enforcement agencies.
State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, and state Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, will launch their effort tomorrow when the Judiciary Committee meets at 11 a.m. in Hartford.
"No one's saying you can't keep track of people on the (Internet) saying they're trying to disrupt an event," Lawlor said. "But you can't just go and arrest people."
Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, said he hopes the Judiciary Committee will include his group in its discussions.Probably a good idea. The more discussion between lawmakers and law enforcement about these issues, the more likely there will be a reasonable policy created, with oversight built in.
Lawlor said he is concerned state police oversold Krayeske as a threat to their Hartford counterparts.This makes perfect sense. Lawlor and McDonald are working to develop a way for our public officials being kept safe while simultaneously protecting our constitutional rights.
The legislation he and McDonald are proposing could prevent a reoccurrence by defining political dissidents versus threats; limiting the circumstances for surveillance on dissidents; ensuring that security briefings include reminders to respect constitutional rights; and creating a legislative oversight committee to review the procedures every few months, Lawlor said.
"The problem here is there was nothing about Ken Krayeske's history that would lead one to believe he's an actual, physical threat to the governor," Lawlor said. "The most he'd be a candidate for is heckling or trying to talk to the governor in the parade. I have no problem . . . if a cop stood next to him as the governor went by, asked him for ID or hassled him for a little bit. But they didn't. They arrested him on sight."
Lawlor and McDonald also are pursuing legislation to better control bail amounts and ensure they are not artificially inflated to detain individuals.
Seeing this sort of common sense shown by our legislators gives me hope that we can have both security AND constitutional freedoms.