Report on racial profiling shows work to be done

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The first full year of statistics on traffic stops in Connecticut appear to confirm the belief of many that racial profiling is still happening here. Connecticut becomes the first state in the nation to produce a report like this, and it is pointing directly at five police organizations in the state as having the biggest problems with this.

The researchers are quick to note that a single or handful of officers in one police organization can cause the numbers to look bad for everyone else. Every police organization in the state is now participating in this, covering over 600,000 traffic stops made in the state for the twelve-month period that ended last September.

“The statistical disparity provides evidence in support of the claim that certain officers in the state are engaged in racial profiling during daylight hours when motorists’ ethnicity is visible,” Ken Barone of Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Police told lawmakers.

The statistics also indicate that when Hispanic drivers are stopped, they are more likely to have their vehicles searched.

“The results for the post-stop analysis confirm that the disparity carries through the post-stop behavior for Hispanic drivers’ search,” said Barone.

“We always knew this, and having this data, which by the way is a very conservative estimate of what is happening on the roads in Connecticut, it’s now telling us it’s happening,” said Werner Oyanadel, the Executive Director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, following the presentation.

State Representative Bruce V. Morris, D-Norwalk, is an African-American and says he was racially profiled in a traffic stop within the past few weeks.

“I think that many people of color have been vindicated,” said Morris. “The data certainly indicates that racial profiling does exist.”

The authors of the report told state lawmakers that there appears to have been a great deal of improvement since the conviction of five officers in East Haven, but that five police organizations appear to show the presence of significant ethnic and racial disparity in traffic stops. They specifically listed:

  • the city of Waterbury,
  • State Police Troop H, which covers all of Hartford County,
  • State Police Troop C, which covers Tolland County,
  • the town of Groton, and
  • the town of Granby.

“We are committed to making sure that our officers are doing the right thing for the right reasons, and we know that the vast majority of them are,” said Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs, speaking for the CT Police Chiefs Association. “If there are outliers that need retraining, if there are outliers that need to be addressed, we’re committed to taking care of that as well.”

“Should any deficiency be identified in the forthcoming analysis, intentional or otherwise, we will address it immediately and comprehensively,” said the head of the state police, Commissioner Dora Schriro of the CT Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in a statement.

To see the report and find out about your city or town, click here.

To read the Stratford Police Department’s response to the report, click here.

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