State Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, received one of four “2011 Legislator of the Year” awards from the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) for his work on a bill that allows police officers to move from one department to another while still having to meet minimum, entry-level requirements for background investigations, psychological exams and other criteria.
Cassano – who is a member of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee – was recognized by state and local police chiefs at the Connecticut Police Chief Association’s Winter Meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell on Friday.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Police Chiefs Association as they are on the front lines for us everyday,” Cassano said in a statement. “I value their input and expertise on a variety of law enforcement matters and benefit greatly from their input as a member of the Public Safety Committee. Their knowledge, experience and counsel leads to better and more effective legislation.”
“The way the bill was written, it would have eliminated our ability to do background checks and polygraph examinations, which are certainly necessary to keep our profession clean,” said recently retired West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci, who is the legislative co-chairman of the CPCA, when introducing Cassano from the podium. “We came to Senator Cassano, we pitched our case, and he immediately grasped the significance of the issue. The integrity of our profession certainly rests on his assistance.”
The bill that Cassano helped pass into law requires police officers who move from one department to another to be certified anew in a process called "lateral certification." That re-certification includes a personal interview, fingerprint examination, background investigation, psychological examination, criminal history record check, controlled substance screen, and physical and medical tests.