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Watertown rallies for officers as police accountability bill sits a step away from law

State lawmakers in attendance and their constituents agreed in their thought on the police accountability bill.

WATERTOWN, Conn. — The hotly debated police accountability bill is now awaiting its final step before becoming law. It just needs a signature from Governor Ned Lamont. 

People in Watertown rallied to stand with officers who they feel are being hurt by the pending legislation. Dozens covered the green waving signs that read "No Police, No Piece".  

"Reform of this size, sweeping reforms is more than 60 hours worth of work," said Sen. Eric Berthal (R) of the 32nd District. 

State lawmakers in attendance and their constituents agreed in their thought on the police accountability bill. They feel the legislation was rushed through the house and senate as it sits just one step away from becoming law.  

"My brother and my sister-in-law put their lives at risk every day going to work not knowing what’s going to happen," said Michael Markiewicz. 

The bill expands minority officer recruitment and establishes civilian review boards. It also creates a framework for a social worker team. It also requires new training and assessments as well as prohibits military equipment and chokeholds. At the center of the debate has been the issue over qualified immunity which the bill removes. The Governor says officers are still protected.  

"The qualified immunity now matches what they’re doing at the federal government," said Gov. Lamont. "Qualified immunity is in place for the vast majority of anything a cop could be doing." 

People who believe the bill will only drive officers out of the profession and hurt recruitment and public safety are asking the Governor to give the bill more time.  

"I hope the governor has the courage to look at this and consider sending it back to legislator to let the bill have its due process," said Sen. Berthal. 

The police accountability bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Lamont in the coming days.