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Roselle hopes for better compensation; gun safety bills lauded but Duff’s African game bill fizzles

Phil Roselle, center, would be eligible for increased compensation under legislation introduced by State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) and passed by the legislature. It awaits a signature from Gov. Ned Lamont. (Contributed)

NORWALK, Conn. – Connecticut’s legislative session has ended. Norwalk-related developments include:

  •  A bill that might allow Norwalk Police Officer Phil Roselle to receive early retirement compensation was passed
  • Gun safety legislation was passed, with bipartisan support from Norwalk representatives
  • Sen. Bob Duff’s attempt to protect African wildlife didn’t get approved

 

Roselle

Senate Bill 556, “An Act Concerning Additional Compensation for Certain Retired Public Safety Employees,” was approved by the legislature. It awaits Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature.

The bill would permit any municipality, by a two-thirds vote of its legislative body, to annually pay a retired public safety employee who suffered serious and permanent bodily injury in the line of duty and had to retire as a result, the difference between the employee’s disability pay and the employee’s regular rate of pay prior to retirement, a press release from State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) explained.

“The bill was introduced after Norwalk Police Officer Phil Roselle was {accidentally} shot by a co-worker during a prescheduled fire arms training in September 2017,” the press release said.  “Officer Roselle suffered career-ending injuries and has been battling other permanent medical issues related to the incident. He has twice been denied workers’ compensation, as the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission reasoned that Type 1 diabetes was preventing him from working. The Roselle family argues that Officer Roselle was healthy until the shooting, which initiated a decline in his health.”

Mayor Harry Rilling on May 16 said the City would evaluate the language of such a bill and determine how to proceed, if it passed.

Roselle is 52. His wife, Debbie, in a March letter to the editor said that the City was forcing Roselle to retire with 75% of his pay, “even though they are well aware that we have pending legislation that would provide my husband with 100% of his base pay. The Norwalk Police Department contract allows for 18 months of compensation once it is determined that an officer is permanently disabled and not able to work again.”

She called it “unjust and wrong.”

On Friday, she wrote, “I believe the mayor will do the right thing for my husband now, last year his comment was he wanted to do all he could but was unable because it was not a law in CT, so fortunately I made that happen and is now a new law and the first in the United States. CT being the first State and foundation of its kind and honored to say I did this.

Rilling on Saturday wrote:

“I will take a look at the bill and see who is eligible for these expanded benefits. The City has worked hard to negotiate a fair retirement settlement for Officer Roselle and his family, the terms of which are confidential.

“As far as cost, that has not yet been determined. The provisions of this bill would be available to all police officers.

“I want to be clear that the City of Norwalk has been and continues to be committed to protecting those who keep us safe in our community. We must do what’s right to ensure our first responders and their families are taken care of and protected.”

 

“I’m pleased that this bill passed with bi-partisan support,” Duff was quoted as saying in the release, which was issued after the Senate voted and before the House vote. “Any public safety employee who is injured in the line of duty and is forced to retire must be taken care of by their community. Officer Roselle served Norwalk for over 30 years and was forced to retire due to a horrible accident. It’s only right that municipalities do what is necessary to ensure that these employees are protected. Our first responders and law enforcement officers put their lives on the line and do an incredible job of keeping our communities safe and this bill will guarantee that they are compensated properly for their service should they ever have to retire due to a serious injury.”

“I would also like to thank Mayor Harry Rilling for his support and partnership during this process and helping find a solution for Officer Roselle and all public safety officials that have been impacted,” Duff continued.

 

 

‘Three bills improving gun safety’

Duff on May 23 issued a press release lauding “the passage of three bills that would enhance gun safety across Connecticut.”

“These bills would require guns to be stored in locked containers in homes with minors, prohibit the manufacturing of firearms without serial numbers and ‘ghost guns,’ and require pistols and firearms in unattended motor vehicles to be locked and secured,” the release said.

“As a result of the laws we have passed in prior sessions, we have lower rates of gun deaths and gun crimes and live in a safer state than other places across the nation,” Duff is quoted as saying. “Today, we continued this great work by passing three bills that will improve the safety of our communities. I’m proud that Connecticut continues to lead on this issue and we show the rest of the country what it means to address gun violence head-on and protect our residents.”

Ethan’s Law

The release said:

“Current state law requires gun owners to secure loaded guns in locked containers if a minor under the age of 16 lives in their home. House Bill No. 7218, commonly referred to as “Ethan’s Law,” strengthens that law by requiring safe storage for all guns – loaded and unloaded – and additionally increases the age restriction from 16 years old to 18 years old. The legislation further makes negligent storage of a firearm a Class D felony and requires the Connecticut Board of Education to develop a K-12 guide on gun safety.

“This bill is named for Ethan Song, a 15-year-old from Guilford who died in 2018 when he was shot with an improperly stored gun at a friend’s house. The gun’s owner could not be prosecuted in relation to Song’s death because the gun was not loaded when it was improperly stored.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017, at least 2,696 children and adolescents were unintentionally shot after a gun was improperly stored; more than 100 were killed. Another 1,100 children took their own lives, many with unsecured firearms. The Harvard School of Public Health found that adolescents who die by suicide are twice as likely to have access to a gun at home than those who survive suicide attempts.”

 

Co-sponsors of the bill include State Reps. Lucy Dathan (D-142), Chris Perone (D-137), Gail Lavielle (R-143), Terri Wood (R-141) and Duff.

Ghost guns

The release said:

“The rise of 3D printing and new technological possibilities has also led to the rise of untraceable handguns. With current kits available online, anyone, including those legally unable to possess guns, can make their own firearm with no serial number in about three hours out of a combination of plastic parts and metal parts. These guns have been seized in Connecticut towns including Torrington, Ridgefield and Waterbury and were used in California mass shootings in 2013 and 2017. In both California shootings, two individuals who could not legally own firearms each killed five people with “ghost guns” utilizing custom-made parts.
“House Bill No. 7219 prohibits manufacturing a firearm without a serial number, manufacturing a plastic gun that can pass through security measures if its grips, stocks and magazines are taken off, and possessing, receiving or transferring an unfinished firearm frame or lower receiver lacking a serial number. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection would need to issue serial numbers for those parts.
“The law provides exemptions for firearms produced by federally licensed manufacturers, antique firearms and firearms made before October 1, 2019 provided they are lawfully possessed. First-time offenses are class C felonies, but courts can suspend prosecution for first-time offenders if the violations are not serious and an offender is not likely to violate the law further. California and New Jersey previously passed similar legislation; New York and Washington state put “ghost gun” bans into place earlier this month. New Jersey’s law has seen success; at least 15 “ghost gun” companies ended sales in that state since it was enacted.”

Co-sponsors include Duff, Perone, Wood, Lavielle and Dathan.

Safe storage in cars

The release said:

“House Bill No. 7223 concerns safe storage of firearms in cars and would prohibit storing a pistol in an unattended motor vehicle, unless that pistol is in the trunk, a locked glove box or a locked safe. It would make first-time offenses class A misdemeanors with further offenses being class D felonies. Law enforcement and certain security personnel receive exemptions, and the court can suspend prosecution for first-time offenders found unlikely to violate the law again.
“This law comes as many cities in the United States see rising numbers of gun thefts from cars, seeing year-to-year increases of up to 40 percent; Atlanta sees up to 70 percent of all reported gun thefts being guns stolen from cars.
“This legislation can reduce the up to 600,000 guns stolen each year and reduce the number of illegal guns on streets, also preventing tragedies. In Florida, a pistol stolen from an unlocked vehicle in 2014 was used to kill a police officer later that year; in Tennessee, a handgun stolen from a car in 1994 was traced to the murder of a teenage girl in Nashville in 2015.
“Just this week, a Hartford man was indicted for stealing firearms from vehicles in Newington and Ellington, then selling those guns to other individuals.”

Co-sponsors include Duff, Dathan, Lavielle and Perone.

 

 

African game

A Duff-introduced bill to prohibit the importation and trade of big six African species passed the Senate on a 32-4 but was not voted on by the House. This means it died.

Senate Bill 20, “An Act Prohibiting the Import, Sale and Possession of African Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros and Giraffes,” would have banned people from importing, possessing, selling, offering for sale or transporting any “big six African species.”

“The legislation is founded on false information provided by the animal rights groups,” AfricanHuntingNamibia.com states on its website. “Do not fear, it is illegal and should be invalidated in federal court.”

“On May 24, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined forces with several in-state and national sportsmen and conservation organizations in providing Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont with a letter of opposition,” CongressionalSportsmen.org writes.

“The bill’s sweeping restrictions would result in curbing wildlife conservation, hindering anti-poaching efforts, and simultaneously depriving rural communities of vital hunting-generated tourism dollars,” the website states. “Licensed, regulated safari hunting revenue is the single most important source of funding for conservation and anti-poaching efforts in Africa. In many Southern and Eastern African countries, revenues generated from licensed, regulated hunting are the primary source of management, conservation, and anti-poaching funds for national wildlife authorities. These hunting programs have been designed by experts to allow a limited, sustainable offtake, and to generate funds for conservation, anti-poaching, and community incentives. In Southern and Eastern Africa, the recovery of ‘Big 5’ populations can be credited to this system.”

Duff did not reply to an email asking about the bill’s failure and the comments made by the Congressional Sportsmen.

“Elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses and giraffes are beautiful animals,” said Duff in the May 14 release. “It is not sporting or acceptable in today’s society to ambush and murder these amazing creatures. African nations are working to protect theses species from extinction and this bill is a small step we can take to help them. As long as people are willing to pay large sums of money for the experience of killing one of these beautiful creatures there is little they can do to put a complete stop to it. With this bill we are trying to do our part to put any end to these activities.”

7 comments

Scott Vetare June 11, 2019 at 7:32 am

Time to pay Phil his 100% that he deserves! Any person who is hurt while working should get this benefit! #allpeoplehurtonjobsmatter!
Duff, stick to helping Norwalk residents! Cut the b.s. with trying to stop hunting! What’s your issue with us hunters?!

Bryan Meek June 11, 2019 at 8:23 am

So, the experts said that Duff’s legislation would actually hurt efforts to save these animals.

The experts also said we needed SoNo schools and needed them on this years schedule to avoid more costs and problems with our school buildings.

Anyone see a pattern here?

John Levin June 11, 2019 at 11:07 am

AfricanHuntingNamibia.com appears to be a website which offers (i.e. sells) ‘trophy hunting’ tours and hunting safaris in Namibia. It is hard to envision that business as a disinterested conservation organization.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) appears to be a 501(c)4 lobbyist working on behalf of hunters and fishers, although its website works hard to conceal the 501(c)4 lobbyist part. It is hard to envision this lobbyist as a disinterested conservation organization.

I laud Senator Duff’s efforts. Pres. Trump’s white house in 2018 unilaterally dropped bans on importation of african trophies which had been in place, and granting the NRA its wish. Trump’s a moron, in my opinion, and his pandering to groups like the NRA will harm many people and wildlife conservation efforts. Killing endangered animals for sport (or blood lust) is difficult to defend on conservation grounds.

Piberman June 11, 2019 at 11:14 am

Officer Roselle’s indifferent treatment will be a long standing stain on Norwalk – a City well known for the professionalism of its Police Officers. That Mayor Rilling, no stranger towards giving large salaries to his various Chiefs, should have remained on the sidelines here is indeed puzzling. And part of his “Legacy”.

By focusing on guns left in autos our CT Legislators continued to ignored the well known documented incidence of how illegally acquired guns are obtained – theft from homes and living quarters.

By refusing to impose more severe penalties for illegal weapon possession CT Democrat Legislators continue to ignore the realities of gun violence in our large CT cities where most gun violence occurs.

By refusing to mandate home safes for all weapons CT Democrat Legisaltors again refuse to understand the obvious. Weapons are dangerous. That’s why virtually every developed nation on the planet mandates “gun safes”. But not CT.

All in all no reason to be proud of CT’s Legislative “accomplishments” on securing gun safety.

Bryan Meek June 11, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Fair points John. I don’t hunt. But the fact our Senate Majority Leader is unable to get legislation through the house might be more telling. I only wish he could have leaned on DEEP to get its act together for our town’s sake and our children piled up in portables with the same amount of passion he put into his failed gambit on protecting African wildlife.

Ken June 11, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Yes Bryan I see a pattern. I see that you have issue with everything that a Democrat does and you seem to think that everything a right wingger does is great. This bias concerns me with a BOE member

Bryan Meek June 12, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Check the voting record, Ken. I vote with Democrats over 80% of the time. The Democrats and Republicans I have issue with are the ones in Hartford who can’t get it done. I could really care less what one’s partisan affiliation is. Also why I’m supporting a U for Mayor.

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