HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — State Capitol Police said Thursday that they have been sending patrols to state Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff’s home in response to reports that Norwalk police officers upset about a police accountability bill tried to intimidate him.
Duff said he was at Norwalk police headquarters on July 24 when a city officer spat at him and about 30 officers gathered in the parking lot as he left. He said he was at the department to attend a meeting of the police union’s executive board and answer questions about the bill. Duff’s account of the events was first reported by Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday.
Duff, a Democrat, said some officers uttered expletives, and afterward someone started driving by his Norwalk house and yelling expletives twice a day for two weeks. He believes it was an effort to intimidate him days before the Senate voted on the police accountability bill that had been approved by the House the day before. The Senate approved the bill on July 29, and Gov. Ned Lamont signed it two days later.
“What keeps me up at night is that if they would do this to someone like me who’s white, privileged and the Senate majority leader and has a public platform, what are they doing to others who don’t have that platform, can’t speak up and don’t have the position that I have?” Duff said Thursday.
Police across the state opposed portions of the accountability bill. The law creates a new inspector general to investigate police use-of-force cases, limits when deadly use of force including chokeholds can be justified and allows civil lawsuits in state courts against officers for violating people’s civil rights, in certain situations.
State Capitol Police said in a statement Thursday that they have been sending patrols to Duff’s home as a precaution in response to media reports of what happened in Norwalk.
Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said he planned to meet with Duff on Friday to discuss what happened. He said officers provided a somewhat different account of the events at police headquarters, including that an officer several feet away from Duff turned his head and spat at the ground, not at Duff.
“However, it is clear that the behavior was not acceptable,” Kulhawik said in a statement Thursday. “I can appreciate that Sen. Duff felt disrespected by some members of the department.”
The police chief called the entire situation disappointing. He declined to say whether any of the officers’ conduct is under investigation.
A phone message seeking comment was left for the local police union president, David O’Connor.