Shelton legislator pushes bill giving fired officers 'a fair hearing'

State Rep. Ben McGorty (R-122) has been appointed Assistant Republican Leader by House Republican Leader-elect Vincent Candelora on Dec. 4.

State Rep. Ben McGorty (R-122) has been appointed Assistant Republican Leader by House Republican Leader-elect Vincent Candelora on Dec. 4.

Contributed photo /

SHELTON — State Rep. Ben McGorty wants to guarantee due process for police officers who have been terminated.

McGorty, R-Shelton, has introduced bill No. 1471, “An Act Concerning the Prohibition on Employment of Police Officers Who Were Terminated for or Resigned or Retired While Under Investigation for Certain Conduct,” to, if passed, allow such officers a fair hearing.

“I introduced this bill to make sure police officers have the same due process given to anyone in our justice system,” McGorty said.

“I understand that the law is intended to prevent the re-hiring of officers dismissed for serious misconduct like forgery or giving false testimony, and this wouldn’t prevent that,” he added. “But I believe that if the punishment involves that officer never serving in a law enforcement capacity in the state ever again, there should at least be an opportunity for them to get a fair hearing.”

McGorty said he has also introduced companion legislation to ensure that fire chiefs are given due process in appealing a permanent dismissal from service.

“Fire marshals are already entitled to the same right to appeal,” he said, “and I think that should be applied evenly.”

McGorty has one supporter in fellow Shelton resident and state Rep. Jason Perillo.

“Individuals should be able to apply where they like, and police departments should be able to make their own hiring decisions without state government dictating to them,” said Perillo, the deputy Republican leader in the House.

McGorty said he wrote this bill and its companion with input from police and fire chiefs in Shelton and Trumbull, along with public safety professionals from throughout the state. He said he is in regular contact with such officials statewide in his roles as a fire serviceman, a member of the Public Safety Committee, and as co-chair of the Fire and EMS Caucus.

“I hope it will be approved by the committee and get a floor vote,” he said.

This proposal comes in the wake of six terminations — resulting from two separate internal affairs investigations — of Shelton officers this past summer. But McGorty said his bill was not a reaction to the terminations that have come under fire by some in the community.

“This really goes back to the discussion in the legislature this past summer regarding the police accountability bill and how it would impact our law enforcement,” McGorty said. “These conversations were taking place and this bill was already in the works well before those terminations took place.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com