Report release on racial profiling and traffic stops - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Report release on racial profiling and traffic stops

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On Thursday a new study states racial profiling is potentially going on in Connecticut. (WFSB) On Thursday a new study states racial profiling is potentially going on in Connecticut. (WFSB)

Racial profiling by police officers has been a hot topic across the country recently.

On Thursday a new study states racial profiling is potentially going on in Connecticut.

But, law enforcement officials were quick to defend themselves and said the Alvin Penn Report is flawed and makes way too many assumptions.

Eyewitness News looked into the report and what it means, moving forward.

While the report said racial biases are still driving some traffic stops in Connecticut, state officials were quick to point out it is not rampant in state.

But police chiefs across the state said they're still being persecuted unfairly. They called the study frustrating and misleading.

The 292 page study, conducted by researchers at Central Connecticut State University, was presented to state lawmakers on Thursday morning. It analyzes 12 months of traffic data from October 2014 through September 2015 for all 102 Connecticut police departments.

“We are the only state we know of that analyzes traffic stop data using six different indicators, so of which are arguably the most statistically sophisticated ways developed to look at this information,” IMRP Research Specialist Ken Barone said.

The study finds significant racial and ethnic disparities still exist in police traffic stops in Connecticut.

Out of nearly 600,000 traffic stops, 14 percent of drivers stopped were black, when black people of driving age only make up 9 percent of the population, while 12.5 percent were Hispanic, when Hispanics of driving age comprise of about 12 percent of the population.

The analysis also found the stops of minority drivers were more likely to occur during the day when a driver’s race and ethnicity are visible.

"Racial and ethnic disparities exist,” Barone said. “I think people knew that before the report was put together."

Five police departments: Bloomfield, New Milford, Norwalk, West Hartford and Wethersfield, as well as State Police Troop H, were found to have significant disparities in their traffic stop data.

The data of another four departments, Meriden, Newington, Trumbull and Windsor, were found to have consistent disparities that raise the potential of racial and ethnic bias.

Police explained why they believe the study is inaccurate-- saying many of the municipalities being called out in the report surround Hartford, which has a large minority population.

“It is our belief that the city of Hartford has many residents that leave the city to do shopping, working, education, multitude of reasons and the towns are just stopping the actual driving population as they offend within those communities,” Berlin Police Chief Paul Fitzgerald said.

Researchers will conduct follow up analysis of the departments identified in the study, something police said should be done before releasing their research.

Case in point, a number of departments called out last year were found to be in compliance and their names smeared prematurely.

“All this does is really incite,” Redding Police Chief Doug Fuchs said. “It doesn't in any way, shape, or form unite us to move this needle forward and that's what needs to be done at this point."

Twenty-five police officers were also singled out in the report as stopping minority drivers at significantly higher rates than their peers.

Nearly half worked for two police departments with eight in Hamden and four in Wethersfield.

No police chief has been informed that any of their officers have engaged in discriminatory policing.

Even the study said these results should be viewed as a starting point of a dialogue and not as conclusive evidence of wrongdoing.

If you'd like to view the entire report, click here

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