Connecticut gubernatorial debate gets heated over police accountability law after Bristol officers killed:

Connecticut gubernatorial debate heats up over policing law after officers killed: ‘It’s unconscionable’

The Connecticut gubernatorial debate got heated Tuesday after GOP candidate Bob Stefanowski blamed the killing of two police officers last month in Bristol on a new police accountability law he argued promoted lawlessness. 

“Every officer I’ve talked to — your Police Accountability Bill has created a sense of leniency and corruption in the state of Connecticut, and you need to be held accountable for it,” he claimed. “It’s unconscionable to the people Connecticut.”

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Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont shot back at Stefanowski and accused him of politicizing the deaths of Sgt. Dustin Demonte and Officer Alex Hamzy, who were gunned down on Oct. 12 after they responded to a possible domestic violence house call, which authorities believe was a deliberate ambush.

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski differed on a state police accountability law during a Tuesday WTNH News 8 debate. 
(WTNH News 8)

“I just think that is the cheapest grandstanding I can imagine,” Lamont said, adding that the tragedy was carried out by “a madman who was drunk with an AR-15-style assault weapon.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski answers a question during the Connecticut Broadcasters Association debate with opponents Ned Lamont and Oz Griebel at Infinity Music Hall in downtown Hartford Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski answers a question during the Connecticut Broadcasters Association debate with opponents Ned Lamont and Oz Griebel at Infinity Music Hall in downtown Hartford Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. 
(Cloe Poisson/Tribune News Service via Getty Images via Getty Images)

“Get those AR-15-style assault weapons off the street if you really want to be serious about crime,” he added in a furious retort. 

Stefanowski took issue with a bill Lamont signed into law two years ago in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. 

Police officers file into Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for a funeral service for Bristol Police officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in East Hartford, Conn. 

Police officers file into Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for a funeral service for Bristol Police officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in East Hartford, Conn. 
(Sean Fowler/Hartford Courant via AP)

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The law required greater oversight on policing by establishing an inspector general to investigate police use of force, limitations were put on instances were deadly force can be justified and more civilian oversight on police departments were enabled. 

Lamont pointed to police-camera requirements as an example of how his policies have not only expanded trust between the police and community but have given police officers an added layer of security as they can look at the footage to show they followed procedure. 

But the law also sparked controversy in Connecticut and led to a protest at the state Capitol after it allowed civil lawsuits to be filed against officers by individuals who’s constitutional rights were violated if their actions were determined to have been “malicious, wanton or willful.”

In this Feb. 9, 2022 file photo, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont delivers the State of the State address during opening session at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn.

In this Feb. 9, 2022 file photo, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont delivers the State of the State address during opening session at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn.
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

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Stefanowski argued these oversight procedures have created an atmosphere where criminals feel emboldened and accused the governor of showing a “lack of respect” for law enforcement. 

Lamont said Stefanowski’s comments were a “horrible accusation.” 

“It’s false and unfair, and they’re wrong,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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