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Connecticut’s law enforcement officials need more simulated training, better communication with supervisors, and to obey the law themselves if a statewide pursuit police is going to help save lives, according to State Sen. Alvin Penn of Bridgeport. “No one is above the law and no one is beneath the law,” Penn said sharply. “The law has to be followed. It is not up there for anyone to pick and choose what they will follow.” Penn’s advice was given to members of Department of Public Safety recently during a legislative public hearing on amendments made to a statewide uniform pursuit policy. The policy changes are aimed at stopping injuries and loss of life during police chases. The new policy is meant to establish uniform standards among law enforcement personnel in the state in accordance with the provisions of Public Act 99-171, and would set minimum core requirements for all police pursuits in and around Connecticut. New Haven attorney Hugh Keefe, of Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante, has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in police pursuit cases over the years. “It is a controversial area from the git go,” Keefe said of such cases. “But because of high profile cases, cops are now more aware than anybody what is at stake. Jurors are more likely now to acknowledge if an officer of the law is at fault, and to convict because of that fault, than in past cases.” Additions to the policy now include definitions on everything from what constitutes pursuit to what is delineated as authorized emergency vehicles. Descriptions of pursuit operations, tactics, termination of pursuit, procedures to be followed, operations, supervisory roles and inter-jurisdictional pursuits have been included. Although Penn had criticism for law officials both during and after the June 30 hearing, he admitted the latest draft had shown some improvement. “It is a remarkable change since the last legislative changes,” Penn said. “We are all on the same page with these issues.” At least 30 people attended the hearing held at the Department of Public Safety.

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